Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce

Right before I flew to Seattle for a week of family time, I tried to clean my refrigerator and not have too much food to toss. There was a lonely head of cauliflower that was showing its age: brown spots! Instead of tossing it in the garbage, I decided to trim away the brown spots and make Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce.

Have you seen people's photos of roasting the entire cauliflower head? I haven't tried it yet. I also, until this recipe, haven't tried making cauliflower steaks. Let me tell you this: unless you are some sort of a genius, it's really hard to make more than a few steaks from one cauliflower head. Or maybe that's what I'm telling myself to make myself feel better ;)

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce

1 large cauliflower, cut into steaks (do this by keeping the stem of the cauliflower attached. I was only able to make a few steaks. Don't worry, you can use the "fallen pieces" as well.)
olive oil

for the sauce
2 parts tahini
1 part lemon juice
1 part water
a few splashes hot sauce
salt to taste
1 part chopped cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Add your cauliflower steaks and "fallen pieces." Lightly coat cauliflower with olive oil and season with salt and za'atar.
3. Roast cauliflower for 25 minutes. Then turn, coat with a bit more olive oil if necessary and season with salt and za'atar. Roast for additional 15-25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.
5. Serve cauliflower hot out of the oven with a drizzle of tahini sauce.

I ate some of this concoction straight from a cookie sheet. It was THAT good! You can also reheat the leftovers, if there are any, in the oven or serve them at room temperature.

The sauce would be great as a salad dressing or a dip for vegetables.

Happy Monday!!


What To Do With Kimchi? Kimchi Fried Rice With Chorizo & Pineapple

Last week I shared a recipe for Kimchi Pancakes. Today I bring you another idea for what to do with kimchi: Kimchi Fried Rice With Chorizo & Pineapple. This is not really a recipe, because I'm not specifying the amounts for each ingredient, but I have faith you can figure out how much of each to use!

What To Do With Kimchi? Kimchi Fried Rice With Chorizo & Pineapple

hard chorizo, chopped
olive oil (optional)
pineapple chunks
frozen peas, defrosted
soy sauce
fresh cilantro

1. Heat a skillet. Add chorizo and brown. Remove chorizo to a plate.
2. Scramble an egg in the chorizo fat. Remove from the skillet.
3. Add a bit of olive oil to the skillet. Add pineapple chunks and saute them until they become golden brown.
4. Add defrosted peas, kimchi, rice and season with soy sauce and sriracha. Saute until rice gets a bit crispy.
5. Add back chorizo and scrambled egg to the pan. Heat through. 
6. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.

I so loved this dish. You can have it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. It'd be even a great snack. Seriously, you've got to make this! Sweet pineapple, spicy kimchi, fatty chorizo and fresh cilantro: what's not to ♥?

If you  need a few more ideas for what to make with kimchi, knock yourselves out ;)


Best Way To Clean The Refrigerator Before Vacation: Make Soup!

Let's say you are going on vacation and have a bunch of random ingredients in your refrigerator you don't feel like throwing in the garbage. What should you do? MAKE SOUP!!!

That, in fact, is exactly what I did.

I had a carcass from a rotisserie chicken, a few random vegetables, and tortillas from making enchiladas earlier that week. I put everything together and made Kale & Tomato Soup with Tortilla Strips.

Note: I made broth from the chicken carcass and a few onion slices, but you can use store-bought carton.

Best Way To Clean The Refrigerator Before Vacation: Make Soup!

Kale & Tomato Soup with Tortilla Strips
Serves 4-6
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and tossed, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 white onion, chopped
kernels from 1 corn on the cob
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
salt & pepper
14. 5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth

sour cream
chopped cilantro
fried tortilla strips 

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add kale and smoked paprika. Stir. Cover the pot with a lid for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and saute the kale until it wilts.
3. Add onions, corn and garlic; season with salt and pepper and saute for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft.
4. Add tomatoes and chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Serve topped with cilantro, sour cream and fried tortilla strips.

I loved the contrast of sweet corn with earthy flavor of kale and tart tomatoes. Of course you know I love sour cream: it made the soup richer and a bit more indulgent...not to mention the fried tortilla chips. If you have an avocado, cube it and add it on top!

What do you do with random produce before leaving on vacation?


Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onion Breakfast Casserole: Perfect Dish To Share With Friends

TGIF!!!! Are you excited about the weekend? I am! Yesterday I had a moment of panic when I could not remember if I made any fun plans, and then it occurred to me that I'm going to Seattle to visit my family: fun indeed! :)

Whether you are visiting friends and family this weekend, hosting a brunch, or just need to use up leftover bread, you've got to make my Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onion Breakfast Casserole. It's a perfect dish to share with friends, or make and eat for breakfast throughout the week.

Last weekend I went to visit my friends Evi and Sam to bring them food because they became parents to a beautiful little girl. But it's weird to come over and bring food and then have to be fed, right? So I decided to whip up a quick little brunch dish. This is a very easily changeable recipe: use the sausage or don't, use whichever vegetables you like, play with the amount of bread depending on how much egg to bread ratio you want to end up with.

Also, why just make one breakfast casserole? Make one to share and one to keep! Also, I finally got to use the pretty baking dish I found in Marshalls months ago. It's a gorgeous way to serve this breakfast casserole.

Sausage, Peppers & Onion Breakfast Casserole
Makes 2 loaf sized casseroles

1 pound sweet Italian sausage (the one that comes without casing...like ground beef)
olive oil
3 peppers, chopped (I used orange, yellow and green)
1 onion, chopped
10" round Italian bread, cubed (you want 8-10 cups)
10 eggs
1 cup milk
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a large skillet, brown the sweet Italian sausage, breaking it into pieces. Remove from the skillet.
3. Add a bit of olive oil to the skillet if necessary and sauté peppers and onions for 15-20 minutes.
4. Add back the sausage and bread cubes and mix to combine. If your skillet is not large enough, you may want to mix the ingredients in a large bowl.
5. Whisk together eggs and milk with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese. Don't worry, you'll use the remaining half a cup in a bit.
6. Once the pepper/onion/bread/sausage mixture cools, divide it between two loaf sized baking dishes. Or you can use one large casserole dish.
7. Cover with the egg mixture and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.
8. Bake the casseroles for 30-40 minutes depending on how gooey you want them to be. Make sure the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling.
9. Serve!

This dish is great served with mimosas and freshly brewed coffee. It feeds a crowd but is also great as leftovers heated in microwave. I bet you could even freeze it.

Have you ever made a breakfast casserole? What do you put in yours?

Have a great weekend! Come back next week to see a recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice with Pineapple and Chorizo!! You don't want to miss it.


Kimchi 2.0 + Kimchi Pancakes Recipe

It has been almost a year since the first time I've made kimchi! It was time to make it again! I had a large Napa cabbage at home that needed to be used, so why not make kimchi? Once again, I used  Joe Yonan's recipe from Eat Your Vegetables. You can see the recipe here. I did make two little changes to the recipe inspired by Fabiola from Not Just Baked: I added 5 radishes and 6 scallions.

Once kimchi was ready, I decided to use it to make Kimchi Pancakes!

Kimchi Pancakes
Makes ~ 6 pancakes

1 cup flour
3/4 cups water
1/4 cup liquid from kimchi
1 egg
1 cup kimchi, chopped
vegetable oil
low sodium soy sauce
scallions, chopped
sesame seeds

1. In a bowl mix together flour, water, kimchi liquid, egg, and chopped kimchi.
2. Heat a skillet and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Using a 1/3 cup measure form pancakes and allow them to cook for 4-6 minutes on each side until they are golden brown.
3. Mix together low sodium soy sauce with fresh scallions and sesame seeds for a dipping sauce.
4. Serve kimchi pancakes IMMEDIATELY topped with fresh scallions and a side of the dipping sauce.

Thoughts: these were great. I love savory pancakes, and kimchi added intense flavor to this dish. You really must serve/eat these immediately because they get soggy as they sit around. Clearly, using more oil would make these crispier. Apparently adding a bit of baking powder to the batter will make pancakes crispier too. Thanks for the tip @KoreaFoods!

Stay tuned for another recipe using kimchi later this week (or next week), but in the meantime try these ideas:


Sabra's Mango Peach Salsa as a Marinade for Shrimp! #SalsaLove

Morning! It's Thursday...which means we are sooooo very close to the weekend! Cannot wait. It also means that there are two more week nights when you may want to make a super fast dinner that tastes great and is relatively healthy. That's exactly what my recipe for Sweet & Spicy Shrimp with Sabra's Mango Peach Salsa, Pineapples and Scallions Over Orzo will let you achieve. It'll take you longer to say the title of the recipe than to make this dish ;)

This is the second recipe I'm developing using Sabra's salsa. You can read all about my awesome trip to Bakersfield sponsored by Sabra and the first recipe I created: Sabra Salsa Burger with Peaches, Avocado & Sriracha Mayo.

Make sure to check out Sabra's special website for their salsa line where you can find videos of farmers singing to tomatoes, coupons, sweepstakes and recipes.

You can eat salsa directly out of the container, add it to cheesy dips, puree it into gazpacho or add it to mac & cheese. In this recipe I decided to use Sabra's mango peach salsa as the base for my marinade! Why? Well, it has great flavors and added sweetness to the marinade. Paired with horseradish and lime juice, the flavors really popped!

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp with Sabra's Mango Peach Salsa, Pineapples and Scallions Over Orzo
Serves 2

1/2 cup Sabra's mango peach salsa, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon horseradish
juice of 1 lime, divided (1/2 for the marinade, 1/2 for orzo)
10 peeled and deveined shrimp (I left the tails on)
1-2 cups cubed pineapple
6 scallions, white parts only, cut into 2" pieces
olive oil
1.5 cups cooked and cooled orzo
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
extra lime wedges for garnish

1. In a mini food processor puree 1/2 cup of mango peach salsa, horseradish and 1/2 of the lime juice.
2. Pour the marinade over shrimp and let it sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

3. My original idea was to make skewers: this was my attempt. HOWEVER, I did not realize that the pineapple chunks were thicker than the shrimp. So when I went to sauté the skewers, the shrimp did not touch the skillet: FAIL. I ended up sautéing shrimp, pineapple and scallions sans the skewers in olive oil until the shrimp were cooked through and pineapple chunks were caramelized.

Notes: make sure to brush off the extra marinade before cooking the shrimp. ALSO, you may need to take the shrimp out of the skillet before pineapple is fully caramelized in order to avoid overcooking the shrimp.

4. Dress orzo with olive oil and the remaining lime juice and mix with cilantro. Serve sautéed shrimp, pineapple and scallions over orzo with a few spoons of mango peach salsa in the middle and a few lime wedges on the side. Yes, I like to arrange my food in a pretty pattern ;)

I really liked how this dish turned out even though I failed on the skewer idea. You can serve the shrimp hot, but I also liked them as leftovers straight out of the fridge.

Disclosure: Sabra compensated me for recipe development. All opinions are my own.


What To Do With Ground Chicken: Antipasti Chicken Balls In Spicy Tomato Sauce

It's back to normal after a relaxing 3 day weekend of seeing friends, eating out, attempting to take naps (2 out of 3 failed) and cleaning my kitchen for the #kitchncure project. You can check out my progress here.

I haven't edited photos for the two recipes I made over the weekend, but luckily I have a great recipe to share with you that I made a few weeks ago: Antipasti Chicken Balls In Spicy Tomato Sauce. So what are you waiting for? Go grocery shopping, pick up the necessary ingredients and make this recipe for dinner tonight!

Ground chicken can be somewhat boring, but by adding a few ingredients you'd normally find on an antipasti platter, you get flavorful, moist (ugh I hate this word!!!) and can't-stop-at-just-a-few chicken balls.

What To Do With Ground Chicken: Antipasti Chicken Balls In Spicy Tomato Sauce
Makes ~ 15 balls

chicken balls
4 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
6 oil cured olives, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup panko crumbs
salt & pepper
olive oil

2 14.5 ounce cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce

fresh basil, chopped

1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the chicken balls other than olive oil. Using a cookie scoop form uniform balls. I ended up with 15.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet with deep sides and brown all ball on all sides. You may have to do this in batches.
3. Remove the balls from the skillet and add all ingredients for the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes, mashing the tomatoes in the process.
4. Add the balls back into the sauce making sure to spoon the sauce over the balls. Cover the skillet and allow the balls to cook through by simmering them in the sauce for 15 minutes.
5. Serve garnished with fresh basil.

These were awesome! I bet they would freeze really well....but I ate them all!

What's your favorite thing to do with ground chicken?


Are You A Baller? No Worries: Just Make Curried Cheese Balls!

Sometimes cookbooks unexpectedly show up at my front door. There are worse things in the world! Most of the time I look through the books and right away decide whether I'll keep them or donate them. When I received a preview copy of Michelle Buffardi's Great Balls of Cheese cookbook, I knew I'd keep it. First of all, it is an adorable size. Second of all, it has cute photos. Thirdly, it has recipes with CHEESE! Who doesn't love cheese?

I'll admit the book sat on my coffee table for months. Finally, this past weekend I decided to make one of the recipes. It wasn't hard to choose which recipe to try first: Curried Cheese Ball called my name! Not only did it have curry (duh), but it was encrusted with one of my favorite nuts ever: pistachios!

It was also an excuse to use the newest kitchen toy I splurged on!!!

The recipe below is copied directly from the book. The only changes I made was to leave out the onion and to form the mixture into a log and then into 3 balls instead of making one giant ball. BALLS!!!

Curried Cheese Ball(s)
Serves 15 to 20 

Excerpted from Great Balls of Cheese, © 2013 by Michelle Buffardi.

Some people think they don't like curry powder; they assume it's spicy--but it's spiced, not spicy. If you have those kinds of guests at a party, just call this a cheese ball and don't mention the curry until after they've eaten a whole bunch and want to know the source of the unbelievable flavor.


16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped dates
1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon mango chutney (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
Pinch coarse salt
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios, toasted, for coating
Crackers or crudités, for serving

Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together the cream cheese, cheddar, dates, onion, mango chutney, if using, curry powder, salt, and cayenne, if using, until combined. Form the mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Before serving, roll the cheese ball in the pistachios to coat.

Serve with crackers or crudités.

This was a great recipe: incredibly easy to make, delicious and huge quantity! I've been eating this for breakfast with mini bagels or Wasa crackers.

Have you ever made a cheese ball???
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book free of charge but was under no obligation to blog about it and was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


My New Kitchen Toy Splurge & Ina Garten's Chocolate Chunk Blondies

After years of thinking about a KitchenAid stand mixer and hoping that KitchenAid will just send me one (I'm a blogger y'all....kidding...not totally), I finally did it. I SPLURGED and bought one for myself. Because if I don't treat myself, who would? This was sort of an impulsive purchase...even though I've looked at several models over the years and posted several links on my FB page getting my friends' opinions, I've never REALLY seriously thought about buying one...after all, I'm not much of a baker. But then people said it did not matter: I will just find uses for it.

Plus, they are SOOOO pretty. SOOOOOOOOOOO, earlier this month I was watching a show on QVC and they had a new model of the KitchenAid stand mixer for a great value in a zillion colors. I sort of wanted a bright yellow one, but theirs was really light, so I went with my standard favorite kitchen color: RED.

How gorgeous is it??? I'm still thinking about what to name it ;)

I used my stand mixer for the first time this weekend when I made Ina Garten's Chocolate Chunk Blondies from her Foolproof cookbook. I've made several recipes from this book in the past, and every single one was a success. This was no different.

Ina Garten's Chocolate Chunk Blondies from her Foolproof cookbook

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks, such as Nestlé's

Shout out to Madecasse for sending me a sample of their wonderful pure vanilla extract. It has an intoxicating sweet scent and was a great addition to the recipe.

"The beans for this extract are hand-cultivated on the northeast coast of Madagascar.
Two-fold "Baker's Secret" formula made with 2x the beans of regular extracts."


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and with the mixer still on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold the walnuts and chocolate chunks in with a rubber spatula.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don't overbake! A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.

Ta da! Clearly I could not wait until the blondies were completely cooled. They smelled too good. So I took out a chunk and ate it warm with a cold cup of milk. DIVINE. Even though I used large chocolate chips instead of chocolate chunks, they melted beautifully and made this such a decadent dessert. Also, using Kosher salt added a great contrast to the sweetness of the dessert.

This was another successful recipe by the Barefoot Contessa.

Once the blondies cooled, they became thinner and more solid. They were still awesome, but I preferred them warm and gooey.

And guess what? They are wonderful to share with friends. Cut into pieces, wrap in parchment paper and tie with a bow.

Happy Monday!!!
Other recipes I've made from Foolproof:
Ina Garten's Carrot Cake Recipe from Foolproof Cookbook
What to do with a Boneless Leg of Lamb? Ina to the rescue.
Love Chickpeas But Tired of Hummus? Ina Garten Can Help!
What to do with White Beans? Ina to the Rescue