Tomato & Feta Salad with Fresh Herbs

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I feel like I am cheating here, posting these recipes that hardly count as recipes but fuck it.  This salad is easy, fast & delicious.  My measurements here are loose & open to your interpretation – so feel free to tweak this one as you please.

One note – NEVER put your tomatoes in the fridge!  It damages their flavor & texture.  You can Google the question for lots of thoughts on this but, trust me, counter top only for tomatoes.

This is a fairly decent sized portion of salad & can easily feed 4 as a salad course.  If that is more or less than you need – the basic ratio is equal parts tomato to feta – and the rest you can eyeball.  I used this pomegranate champagne vinegar but any nice white wine vinegar would work.

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Tomato & Feta Salad with Fresh Herbs

INGREDIENTS

2 pints cherry tomatoes (or similar quantity of other tomatoes)

8 ounces good quality feta cheese

1 small red onion – in a 1/4 inch dice

olive oil

Champagne or white wine vinegar

Fresh mint or fresh basil & parsley – minced

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half – alternating the way you halve them.  Or – dice your regular tomatoes.  Cube the cheese into 1/4 inch bits.  Toss the tomato & feta & diced onion with a good drizzle of both olive oil & the vinegar & sprinkle liberally with the herbs of your choice.  Add S&P & serve!

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Blue Cheese with Honey & Toasted Walnuts

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This isn’t really a recipe.  It is more of a suggestion.  I like blue cheese but do not adore it.  I am not a fan of honey at all.  This appetizer?  Outrageously delicious!  You just need to buy the best quality blue cheese you can find (or Cambozola or brie or Saint Andre – any strong but soft cheese you love).  I got mine at the awesome Super King – which has a pretty amazing deli meat counter with LOTS of delicious cheeses available by the pound.  They also sell walnuts for like $5.50 a pound at their MASSIVE nut counter.   Cashews are about $6 pound.  CHEAP.  I got my honey at Super King, too.

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I’m sure it came from one of the places you are not supposed to by honey from, like China, but Super King had no locally sourced honey.  Surprising because honey is used so much in Middle Easter baking (think baklava).  And – as an aside – do not think a label reading “Distributed by XXX in Glendale, Ca” means it is California honey.  It likely means they bought tons of it from China & just bottled it here.

Anyway – dry toast your nuts (pecans and almonds work, too).

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When they are fragrant & just begin to smoke but are not changing color yet (which happens fast – so watch & stir them the whole time) – remove them from the heat.  Then – just plate the cheese, drizzle lots of honey on it & sprinkle with nuts.  Serve with crusty bread & a box of wine & make yourself very happy.

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Roasted Salmon & Potato Hash with Hominy & Poached Egg

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is my kitchen – where I attempt to make the magic happen.

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I am VERY lucky because it is huge & I designed it myself 16 years ago & it serves me extremely well.  It is a very inspiring place to hang out & in the 16 years I have lived here – I have collected nearly every cooking thingamajiggy you can imagine.  But the dish I present to you today requires only the basics.  A working stove & oven, a roasting pan & a frying pan.  If you are not a confident cook but you want to try one of my dishes, I would recommend this one highly – just maybe substituting fried eggs for poached.

This dish is so delicious, I was astounded.  I came up with it because I was hunting for new things to do with hominy – things that would not involve a ton of cheese.  Hominy seems most often used for breakfast scramble kinds of things and pozole (a traditional Mexican soup – which I will also attempt soon).  I am also still a tad fixated on the idea of poached eggs on things, probably because I haven’t yet mastered the art of poaching eggs nor have I gotten one of those glorious shots of dripping, oozing yolks bleeding yellow onto plates.  Another reason this dish was a perfect choice last night is because I had roasted a hunk of salmon & dressed it with lemon & dill but I didn’t like how it looked – so I couldn’t use it for the blog.  See?  Here it is:

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Not so impressive to look at.  Salmon is cooked when the white fat in it bubbles to the surface.  I tried to wipe it away to make a prettier presentation – but I still didn’t like how it looked enough to post it here as a stand-alone recipe.  Monomaniacally obsessed with only making foods I can use for this blog, I didn’t want to eat that salmon as it was (though it was delicious) because it seemed like a waste of a great blog opportunity.  So – I wrapped it up & left it in the fridge until I figured something out.

This dish could be made with any meat, leftover or otherwise, or without the poached egg.  Lord knows, I ate half the friggin’ potatoes I’d made by simply grabbing a bit every time I passed the stove because they were delicious!  Same with the cold salmon.  But when I tasted it all together with that egg yolk blended in – I was blown away.  The potatoes were savory & delicious & the hominy added the nicest little crunch.  The salmon (which was just a bullshit piece of frozen fish from Trader Joe’s) was clean & fresh & the egg was rich & decadent.  Oh!  And some totally unnecessary $5 micro kale!  This dish is one of my favorite inventions ever.  And – except for the egg poaching – it is EASY!  If poaching the egg intimidates you, maybe fry them instead, but definitely try this dish.  I had it for dinner but it would make an amazing brunch option, too.  You can roast both the salmon & potatoes up to a day ahead & just assemble it last minute.  It is a genuinely easy dish with a few easy-to-find ingredients.  Try it!  Oh!  And here is a great idea to serve with it!  This is equal parts chardonnay & frozen berries – blended.  YUM!  The perfect pre-workout smoothie!

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Roasted Salmon & Potato Hash with Hominy & Poached Egg

feeds between 2-4 depending on your appetites

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs per person being served

2 yellow potatoes – cubed

5-6 red potatoes (or any other potato combo you desire) – cubed

1 medium onion – diced

1/2 lb salmon

2 tsp dry thyme

olive oil

butter

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced (optional)

1 cup hominy – or the full can

1/2 lemon

S&P to taste

Dill or parsley – chopped – as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450.

Blend a TBS or so of butter with a TBS or so of olive oil & smear some onto your salmon.  Sprinkle with S&P.  Cook the salmon about 10 minutes – maybe more, maybe less, depending on how thick yours is.  Salmon is ready when the fat bubbles to the surface.  Remove from heat, squeeze some lemon juice onto it, cut it up into cubes so it cools faster & doesn’t continue to cook & set aside.

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Toss the cubed potatoes in about 2 TBS olive oil & season with thyme and S&P.  Roast at 450, stirring every ten minutes, for 30 minutes or more or until golden.   Remove from heat & set aside.

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In a frying pan, heat 2 TBS olive oil & saute the onion & jalapeno until the onion softens & is translucent.  Add the potatoes & hominy & heat through.

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Add more S&P if you think it needs it.  In the last minute before you serve the hash, add the salmon & cook it just until it is warmed.  Do not overcook the salmon.  Set aside on low heat while you poach or fry the eggs.  HERE are some tutorials on poaching.

To serve, simply arrange some hash on each plate, top with your eggs & some dill or parsley & fresh ground pepper.  Devour!

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Breakfast Quesadilla with Hominy & Roasted Jalapenos on a Kale Tortilla

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is less of a recipe & more just an idea.  You can make your breakfast quesadilla with anything you like inside.  This one was made using my freshly made kale tortillas.  I also roasted a few red & green jalapenos.  This is done on your stove top.  Char the outside of the jalapenos until they blacken.  You can do this directly on the burners or by broiling in the oven.  Once blackened, seal them in Tupperware or wrap them in foil for about 15 minutes.  This will sweat the skin off.  Then, under cool running water, roll the blackened skin away & squeeze off the tops & remove the seeds.  Then – chop the jalapenos finely.

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I also used hominy – the food I am currently having an overt affair with.  Shhh!  Don’t tell cauliflower about that!

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I used one egg, some egg whites, diced tomato, cilantro & grated cheddar cheese with the hominy & roasted jalapenos.  It was really delicious!  I whisked some cheese and S&P in the eggs & scrambled them.  Then I heated the tortilla in a dry pan over medium heat, layered the ingredients & folded the tortilla in half.  After a few minutes, I flipped it & once the cheese was melted, I friggin’ ate it!  🙂Image

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Fresh Homemade Kale Tortillas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These take less effort than you think & are so amazing & satisfying to eat.  The kale gives them a pretty green color but doesn’t change the flavor much.  If kale isn’t your thing, I have a spinach version HERE.

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Fresh Homemade Kale Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch kale – stems trimmed

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1-2 tsp salt

5 TBS olive oil

Water

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DIRECTIONS

Submerge the kale in a pot of boiling water for about ten minutes.  Once completely wilted, scoop it out with a slotted spoon & cool in in cold water.  RESERVE the hot kale water.  Squeeze all the water out of the kale, put the dry ball into a measuring cup & then add the hot kale water until you have 1 1/2 cups with the ball of kale in there.  If there isn’t enough kale water – just add more tap water.  Set aside.

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In your food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder & salt until blended.  Add the olive oil & pulse until it is incorporated.  Add the kale & pulse it in & then add the kale water in a slow stream & pulse until it is completely incorporated and the dough has formed a tacky ball & is traveling around the bowl.  You might not need all the water – you might need a bit extra.  If it is too sticky – just add a bit more flour & pulse it around.

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Put the dough on a lightly floured surface & roll it around to eliminate any tackiness that remains.  Dived the dough into four balls & then divide each of those four balls into three more balls.  Each ball should be about the size of a golf ball.  Let the dough rest 10 minutes or so.

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Roll out each ball as flat & thin as you can – or until they are about 8 inches across.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Do not use any oil or cooking spray.   Leave the pan dry.  Cook each tortilla on each side about 20 seconds or until brown spots begin to appear.  Over cooking will make them crispy so err on the side of under-cooking.

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Store under a clean kitchen towel as you cook all 12 tortillas.

These can be stored at room temperature in a zip-lock bag on your counter for several days.  Rewarm in the oven wrapped in foil or between damp paper towels in the microwave.

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Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Dill & Cheddar

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Another in what must seem like an endless chain of cauliflower recipes.  This is so delicious – I ate the entire thing myself last night.  The amount of cheese is up to you.  I went light to save calories but more would have been a lot better.  This takes a total of 10-15 minutes once you have boiling water.  Try it at least once!

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Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Dill & Cheddar

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower

1/8-1/4 cup fresh dill plus more for garnish

1/4 cup grated cheddar plus more for garnish

1 TBS butter

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Cut the cauliflower in half or quarters & add to boiling water.  Boil about ten minutes.  Leave it in the hot water until you are ready to serve it because it comes together fast but gets cold fast, too.   When ready to serve it – simply puree everything in the bowl of your food processor.  Garnish with a little extra cheese, dill sprigs & some freshly ground pepper.  Hover over it like a fucking prison inmate & shovel it in your face with zero dignity.  Grunting sounds optional.

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Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Broccoli

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is easy & takes about 20 minutes.  The amount of garlic & crushed red pepper are your call.  I went pretty heavy with them.

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Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Broccoli

INGREDIENTS

1 lb of broccoli – cut into florets

6 cloves garlic – minced

1 TBS (or less) crushed red pepper

2 TBS olive oil

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450.   Toss broccoli florets with the olive oil & spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for ten minutes then add the garlic, crushed red pepper and S&P.  Carefully toss & roast another 8 minutes or so.  Be sure to stir the broccoli & garlic once or twice so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Serve!

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I am obsessed with cauliflower.  It can be used to replace or replicate so many things and is inexpensive & free of so many things many people are trying to avoid, like carbs, calories & gluten.  This pizza crust was not my first attempt at using cauliflower as a base for pizza but, the last time I tried it, I wasn’t blogging so the results were never made public.  The results were that it tasted good but I thought it used too much cheese & felt like it was worse for you than regular pizza dough.

This crust is lighter & smelled incredible cooking, but it was a tad moist for my taste & didn’t set together as well as I’d hoped.  In fairness, no cauliflower crust is going to fool anyone into thinking they are eating a standard issue pizza on dough but this one still isn’t perfected.  I did dump a lot of wet ingredients on it (sliced tomatoes & fresh mozzarella) and that definitely contributed to the moisture factor.  Still, I could pick it up & eat it like a slice – just not a crispy one.

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The cooking time on this one will likely vary for everyone – depending on the calibration of your oven & how much moisture you manage to squeeze out of the cooked cauliflower rice & how thick you make your crust.  I kept going in five minute increments from the initial 25 minute cooking time I guessed at until it looked like this:

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I then transferred it (and tore it in the process) to this wire pizza rack thing I have – hoping the vented rack would allow the oven to dry the crust out more.  It looks like this:

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It didn’t really help.  Next time – I might start with the wire rack & cook the dough on parchment atop that & see if it impacts the crispness of the crust.

All that said – this pizza crust was very tasty & even my dogs gobbled up the cauliflower crust I gave them.  That might seem obvious to you but my Dexter is a very finicky eater.  So – I do not want to discourage you from trying this.  The spices I added were sort of random.  You can use the ones I did or not – or you can add some of your own.  Rosemary might be nice!

The pizza you see here that I made is finished with a tomato sauce, fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella & basil on one side & my Chard Pesto (which I recommend VERY highly) on the other.  You can top your crust any way you like.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

INGREDIENTS

1 medium head cauliflower

1 egg – beaten

4 oz. goat cheese

1 TBS dry oregano

1 TBS dry parsley

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Chop your cauliflower & then either pulse it in your food processor (or, as I did, use the grater blade) and reduce the cauliflower to a rice-like consistency.  A regular cheese grater will work, too, but one of the drawbacks to cauliflower is that it pops everywhere when you cut it raw & it gets messy.  Still – the rice cauliflower can be achieved with just a regular cheese grater.

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Boil about an inch of water in a large stock pot.  Boil the cauliflower for about 5 minutes.  Drain it through a fine mesh sieve.  Cool it with cold water & then, in batches, wrap it is a clean kitchen towel & twist it tighter & tighter – squeezing out every bit of water you can.

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In a large bowl, beat the egg then add all the remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower.  With your hands, completely blend the ingredients into a moist dough.

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Line your pizza pan with parchment paper or REALLY grease it.  I suggest the paper – but in a pinch – grease will work.  I just fear it will stick to the pan on you.  No need to grease the parchment, though.  Press your dough into your pizza’s shape – even creating the deep crust on the edges, if you like.  Your pizza dough should be about 1/3 inch thick or so in the flat part.

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Bake this for about 30-45 minutes – watching it carefully because it will go from not done to burned in a flash.  When it reaches a nice golden color take it out of the oven.  Top it with your toppings & cook until your cheese is melted.  Voila!

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Leftover Vegan (or not) Spaghetti Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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So, the night before last, I made a Homemade Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe & Poached Eggs.  Isn’t it pretty?

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But, last night, I found myself with several servings of it left over & I wasn’t really in the mood to repeat the meal exactly.  Plus, this blog pressures me to make and relentlessly photograph something new as often as possible.  So – I pondered what I could do with this leftover pasta.  Pizza, I thought!  Why not use it as a base for pizza?  And that is what I did.

I used this homemade spaghetti which is a little more dense & less flexible than boxed spaghetti would be.  I also decided to try this without adding anything to it to bind it (like and egg or two, a little milk & a little cheese) – primarily because I was out of eggs but also because, if it could work without those extra calories, I wanted it to.

I titled this recipe vegan only because it is so easily converted to a vegan recipe simply by replacing the fresh mozzarella with some vegan alternative.

This dish was a little hairy to make because I fried the spaghetti on one side & then needed to invert it from the frying pan onto a plate and re-oil the pan & then slide the spaghetti back into the hot oil.  Inverting a frying pan over your forearm is a very dangerous thing so WEAR OVEN MITTS and go light on the oil so there isn’t extra in there to spill out all over you.  This process might have been achieved with a large spatula – had I used eggs etc to bind it.  I will try it that way next time.

And there will be a next time because this was kinda fun.  Once on your plate, you are really just eating a triangle-shaped wedge of spaghetti but the crunch from the frying is nice.  Any kind of leftover pasta (with the sauce on it) would likely work – even other shapes of pasta – but I might avoid trying this with a cream-based sauce (like Alfredo) as the dairy would likely just burn.  The hunk of dark you might spot in mine are the bits of broccoli rabe from the night before.

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Leftover Vegan (or not) Spaghetti Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Leftover spaghetti

Some sort of sauce or fresh tomatoes to top it

Some kind of pizza cheese – vegan or otherwise

Olive oil

And really anything else you might use to top a pizza.

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a frying pan.  Press a layer of pasta into it & use a lid to really compress it.  Fry it over medium heat until crisped & golden – maybe eight minutes.

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CAREFULLY invert it onto a large plate, add 2 TBS olive oil to the hot pan & return the spaghetti to the pan for another 5-6 minutes.  Transfer the spaghetti to a greased pizza pan.  Top it as you will & bake it until your cheese is melted or golden to your taste.  Slice it up & shove it in your gullet.

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Homemade Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe & Poached Eggs

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I like my men like my broccoli – bitter.  Of course I jest.  Bitter guys suck.  But bitter broccoli (broccoli rabe) or bitter cocktails (Campari)?  Bring it!

This dish was not a complete success last night.  I got it into my head that I wanted to make a pasta dish with a runny poached egg atop it & I wanted to take glorious photos of it.  But, who knew poaching eggs was so tricky?  Even using an egg poacher I almost forgot I owned – this was still tricky.

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The primary issue is timing.  You want the egg yolk very runny so that it can blend into your hot pasta & fresh cheese & create a creamy sauce.  That doesn’t happen if your yolk is cooked.  But who likes runny WHITES?  Nobody.  So you gotta time it perfectly.  I didn’t.  See?

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Too cooked.  What I learned is, you must time it so that there is still a little give to your egg whites & then allow the hot pasta to cook them – the whites – through when you mix the egg into your bowl.  Look again at the top picture.  You can see that there is still the slightest gooeyness to the whites but that quickly disappeared as the warmth from the pasta finished the job.  And – the yolk was perfect.

Another issue I had was that I burned the garlic.  This image shows the garlic with a large quantity of crushed red pepper but I think you can still see that it is completely browned.

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Burned garlic is bitter & when added to the bitter rabe & without the benefit of a properly poached egg to mellow it out – I must confess this dish was a tad too bitter for me.  But that was due to errors in my execution – not the recipe itself.  So – I will post the recipe & encourage you not to overcook either the garlic or the egg.  And – as to the egg – Google “how to poach an egg.”  I mean – unless you are already an expert.

And, just as an aside – look how handsome my boy Memphis is!

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Homemade Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Broccoli Rabe & Poached Eggs

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta (or four servings homemade cracked pepper pasta)

1 head broccoli rabe – stems trimmed

1/2 cup water or stock

4 cloves garlic – minced

1 TBS crushed red pepper

2 TBS olive oil

4 eggs

Parmesan cheese – freshly grated

Parsley – chopped

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Make your pasta – if you are making it fresh.

Chop the broccoli rabe into bite sized pieces.  Heat the water/stock to a boil in a frying pan & add the broccoli rabe.  Cook on high for about ten minutes or until the rabe is tender & the water mostly cooked off.

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In another pan, heat the olive oil & saute the garlic & crushed red pepper over medium heat for a minute or two – being careful not to brown the garlic.  Add the rabe to the olive oil & blend.

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Cook the pasta.  About 1-2 minutes before the pasta is done – poach the eggs.   Drain the pasta, toss with the broccoli rabe, top each bowl with freshly grated Parmesan, a poached egg & some fresh parsley and maybe more crushed red pepper & freshly ground black pepper.   Mmmmmmmm!

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Creamy Vegan Avocado Pasta with Spinach & Garbanzo Beans

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is one of those dishes that can be prepared in the time it takes your pasta to cook.  If you own a food processor or blender – this dish is a snap & so fresh & delicious – I recommend it very highly.  It can be made with or without the spinach and garbanzo beans or with basil rather than cilantro – if you are a cilantro hater.   This can be made vegan by just substituting the Parmesan with a vegan variety of cheese.  Also – the sauce is raw – so if that is your thing – you are in luck!

 

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Creamy Avocado Pasta with Spinach & Garbanzo Beans

INGREDIENTS

1 pound dry pasta (or homemade!) – I like whole wheat

1 13.4oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) – drained

1.5 avocados

1 lime – zest & juice

4 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno – seeded

1/2 cup packed cilantro (or basil)

2 cups fresh spinach – chopped

3 TBS olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan cheese)

S&P to taste

GARNISH –

1/2 avocado – cubed

1 tomato – diced

1 cup fresh spinach

Basil or cilantro – chopped

Additional grated Parmesan (or vegan cheese)

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DIRECTIONS

Cook your pasta according to directions.  In the last minute – add the can of garbanzo beans.

In a food processor, puree the 1 1/2 avocado, the zest & juice of the lime, the cilantro (or basil), garlic cloves, jalapeno, 2 cups of spinach, 1/4 cup Parmesan, olive oil and S&P to taste.  Add more olive oil or water to thin the sauce if you feel it is too thick.

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When the pasta & garbanzos are cooked, drain & toss with the remaining spinach & the diced tomato (reserving some tomato for garnish) until the spinach wilts a bit.  Then mix in the avocado sauce.  Serve topped with more tomato, avocado & grated cheese & some chopped basil or cilantro.  YUM!

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Pizza with Swiss Chard Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes & Fresh Mozzarella and Thug Kitchen

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I initiated this blog less than a year ago, July 5th or so, impromptu & with no clear vision as to where I would go with it.  My boyfriend called & asked what I was doing that day and I surprised myself by replying, “I don’t know.  I might start a food blog.”  And then I did it.

I was surprised to hear myself answer that way because I hadn’t any aspirations like that, I have never written any kind of blog before & because I always hated the very word, “blog.”  But here I am, nearly a year later, having shared dozens, if not hundreds, of recipes & restaurant experiences & trips to things like The Museum of Death, Bangluck Thai Market,  Super King and even the gynecologist.  Still – I haven’t really found an angle or a hook & I bounce around from vegan things to hominy or cauliflower obsessions & I curse the cost of groceries.  But recently – I found a food blog that makes me so happy – and so jealous at the same time.  These guys cook the kind of food I can eat (I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian who aspires to veganism) and fucking talk about it in terms I can relate to.   Many of you may already be aware of these guys but for the uninitiated among you – let me present THUG KITCHEN.  Here are a few of my favorites from their collection:

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Salad – it’s like plant nachos?  Hahahahah!  It is just too good!  They not only post these gorgeous photos with the world’s BEST pitch lines for recipes but also post the recipes.  I want to BE these people.  I am so fucking jealous.  I get all butterflies & brace for fallout when pitching my GYN post on Facebook like this, “Why pelvic exams are not for pussies” and these guys get all genius like this:

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Seriously.  AND – I found out we are soul mates because they have cunty spoons at their house, too!  I thought it was just me!

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Anyway – I can only look at their site and Facebook page a few times a week – or less – because I am rendered fetal on the floor as I accept my total defeat at the hands of their superior cool factor.  It is very hard on the self esteem.  Very hard on my motivation.  It fucking drives me to drink and I already have a lot of rides to that destination – if you catch my drift.

So – go look at Thug Kitchen.  Get a laugh.  Get some awesome recipes.  Become a vegan before I can muster that dedication – even after I have given 25 years to my bullshit lacto-ovo pescatarianism.  I’m such a loser.

BUT – at least I am a loser that can eat pizza with real mozzarella on it.  Fuckers.  None of that icky Daiya for me.  Sure, real cheese might be full of hormones, antibiotics, Monsanto byproducts & the ceaseless agony of dairy cows (ouch) but at least it melts.

Oh God.  I’m just making myself feel worse.  They can put a man on the moon & my i-phone is more powerful than the computers that put those men on the moon – but they can’t make an edible vegan brie?  No luck on the vegan salmon front?  <deep sigh>

So, yeah.  Brushing myself off from the complete defeat delivered to me & my self-image by the awesome Thug Kitchen – I present to you my latest pizza creation.  It is no wild invention & breaks no new ground.  Still – I couldn’t find a recipe like in on Google so – there.  Swiss chard – super good for you.  Raw almonds – good for you and no danger of the hideous pine mouth you risk if you take the bait & use those over-rated & “kinda too oily & rich anyway” pine nuts.   This is really easy & super tasty.  The micro arugula I used to garnish it is the last of my over-priced $5 experiment with the stuff.  For now.  Because, in reality, it has an amazingly strong flavor & looks frigging gorgeous atop foods.  But – no need for you to splurge on something so obnoxious.  Regular arugula would work nicely, too.  Or no garnish.  Or use basil.  Or parsley.  Whatever.

As a side note – I went to TJ Maxx recently & splurged on a few necessities – like some saucy Jessica Simpson panties & some fancy salt.  The two are unrelated.  New undies make me walk around feeling all fancy, like Queen Jinglefarts.  Can’t you see the sparkle in my eyes as I stand in my kitchen – naughty bits all snugly held in by my new bikinis?

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More interestingly – here is the salt:

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I paid $3.99 for it.  I could eat each individual grain of this salt like miniature hors d’oeuvres.  This salt is actually delicious!  I bought it because (like the micro arugula) I thought it would look pretty, and it does, but holy crap!  I will never look at regular salt again as anything but some unworthy red-headed stepchild.  I shudder to think what a salt fetish could end up costing me down the road but know that – as my obsession develops – I will take you along for the ride.

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Pizza with Swiss Chard Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes & Fresh Mozzarella

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough of your choice (mine is here)

1 head Swiss chard

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

4 (or more) cloves of garlic

3/4 cup + 1 TBS olive oil

1/2 cup raw almonds

a dozen cherry or grape tomatoes

1/2 cup (more or less to taste) grated pizza cheese

1 dozen or so cherry-sized mozzarella balls (ciliegini or other fresh mozzarella) – sliced

S&P to taste

micro arugula or some other green for garnish (optional)

Extra diced tomato as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Make your pizza dough (if you are doing that) or let your store bought version come to room temp on the counter.

Cut your little tomatoes in half & toss with 1 TBS olive oil & some S&P.   Roast them at about 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat & set aside.

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Raise the temp of the oven to the 450-500 degree range.

Wash the chard & remove the center rib.  Immerse in boiling water for about 2 minutes.  Drain & squeeze out the excess water.

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Toast the almonds in a dry pan for about three minutes or until they get fragrant & start to brown.  Remove from heat

In a food processor, puree the nuts & garlic & 1/4 cup of the olive oil then blend in the chard & then the Parmesan and the additional 1/2 cup of olive oil and some S&P.  Use less oil if you think you can get away with it (for a dense pesto) or add more (or some water) if you want a thinner pesto.

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To assemble the pizza, simply roll out the dough.  Place it on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking oil.  Top with pesto, grated pizza cheese, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella & some fancy orgasm-producing Hiwa Kai Black Lave Sea Salt (or just a little sea salt) and some pepper.  Bake at 450-500 for 12-15 minutes or until it looks done to your taste.

Garnish with whatever you selected for that purpose.  Tap a gala keg of some drinking wine & get your eat & your drink on.

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Grilled Lemon & Garlic Calamari

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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There is no real recipe here.  A shoe box would taste good with garlic & lemon & parsley.  Calamari really comes down to those that like it & those that do not – and maybe those that can only tolerate it breaded & fried.

The best calamari I have ever had in my life – and I’ve had the pleasure of having it on repeated occasions – was served to me as a non-menu special a my favorite Manhattan restaurant – Il Bagatto in the lower east side.  Here is the picture they post of it on their site:

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Holy fuck.  It is a glorious thing.  Glorious in its fresh simplicity.

The key to pulling this off at home is a real grill rather than a grill pan, lots & lots of garlic, lots & lots of lemon, lots & lots of parsley (yes – as an ingredient – not just a pretty flourish) and very fresh squid.  When you buy squid – buy it cleaned!  Cleaning squid is labor intensive & really fucking gross.  It will turn you off the whole thing.  But – cleaned – it looks so pure & innocent.  I got $3 worth at my local Ralphs & the stuff was practically angelic looking.

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However – THIS squid did have a definite bleachy, funkified aroma so I couldn’t get it into a garlic-lemon marinade fast enough.  I am not sure if all squid smells sketchy raw – but I ate this all up both grilled and in my stuffed calamari recipe and I was not rendered ill.

Again – the non-recipe recipe is – marinate your CLEANED squid in a combo of a little olive oil & lots (a dozen cloves – minced) of garlic, the juice of a lemon and some S&P.   Marinate for a least 4 hours or overnight.

Then – on a very hot grill – char these bad boys.  I found they took quite a while to cook through.  Every time I turned them, they poured water out of their little belly cavities.  I didn’t like that so I cooked them until that stopped.

Serve with lots of fresh lemon & lots of freshly chopped parsley.  Practically zero calories, too!  Cheap & dietetic.  And kinda fancy.  It’s just a win-win-win!

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Pepper & Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi with Spicy Mayo or Wasabi Mayo & Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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If you read this blog regularly, you know I burned $5 recently on a little container of micro arugula.  It is that little shamrocky looking stuff in these pictures.  I just wanted to follow up on my confession that I bought something so silly by pointing out how much mileage I am getting out of it!  It is really a pretty (and SPICY) little thing & it dresses up food spectacularly.  And it really does add flavor so – that might not be the last time I splurge on it.  So there.

There is nothing easier than this recipe.  The hardest part is finding a quality piece of fish & then ponying up the cash for it.  I got two 3/4 pound slabs at Costco recently for about $20.  That felt steep but then I saw the same fish at Gelson’s for $27 a pound so I felt better.

I felt even better when I used this stuff.  You might have already seen my pretty Sushi Tower

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which was a massive success both on the plate and in my mouth.  This seared option is also wonderful & far easier to pull off.  The two sauce options are really easy, too.  I am posting a little baby kale & arugula salad I made here, too, because it isn’t really a recipe that warrants its own post but the Matsuhisa dressing is so unbelievably delicious – I had to share it with you.  It would go well on any salad or seafood or chicken.  Crazy yummy!

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Matsuhisa Dressing

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup finely diced sweet onion

2 TBS plus 2 tsp soy sauce

2 TBS plus 1 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp water

1/2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp powdered mustard

pinch fresh ground pepper

4 tsp grapeseed oil

4 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Shake together.

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OK – now onto the mayo concoctions.

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Wasabi Mayo

Blend 1/3 cup mayo with 2 tsp prepared wasabi.

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Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mayo of your choice

2 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.  If you have a squeezy bottle to put it in do – because then you can make pretty designs on the plate with the mayo.

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As to the tuna, I used a mortar & pestle to grind up

1 TBS peppercorns

1 TBS white sesame seeds

1 TBS black sesame seeds

1 tsp ground pepper

It was hard to grind them.  Next time – I will just use a pepper mill for grinding the pepper & not bother grinding the sesame seeds.

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Then – simply press your ahi into the mix.

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Press the spice mix in with your hands.  Then, on a very hot grill, sear for about two minutes on each side.

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Cut it up right away to disperse the heat & to keep it from cooking more.  Dress with your mayos & serve with Wasabi Mashed Cauliflower and/or the salad with Matsuhisa dressing!  What a fabulous, light & healthy meal!

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Guilt-Free Vegan Wasabi Mashed Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I adore mashed cauliflower.  It is virtually without calories & absolutely as satisfying as mashed potatoes & it is SO easy to make.  You can flavor the cauliflower any way you would potatoes.  Here I used wasabi to accompany a seared ahi I will post later.

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Guilt-Free Wasabi Mashed Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower – leaves & core removed

1 TBS prepared wasabi

1 TBS butter (or vegan alternative)

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Boil water.  Quarter the cauliflower & boil about ten minutes.  Drain & puree with remaining ingredients – adding a LITTLE water if they are too thick.  Eat the whole Goddamn thing defiantly.

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Cauliflower & Hominy “No Mac” & Cheese with Roasted Corn & Poblano Peppers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Ok – I admit it.  I am obsessed with both cauliflower & now with hominy.  Both are substitutions for things like rice and pasta & potatoes.  I love those things, too, but the cauliflower version is guiltless & the hominy has so much flavor & great texture without even the calorie count of rice.  There is some debating on the nutritional value of hominy (hominy is another name for dried maize kernels, and this common corn-based food is often made into grits).  From the internet:

Low in Calories

One cup of hominy contains just 119 calories. This amount is lower than the amount some other grains provide; for example, 1 cup of white rice provides 242 calories. If you switched from eating 1 cup of white rice to one cup of hominy each day, you’d save 861 calories weekly, enough to lose about 1/4 lb. without otherwise altering your diet.

Low in Fat
Hominy is low in fat, which makes it a good choice on low-fat diets. While low-carbohydrate diets are popular, research suggests that limiting fat intake may be a more effective dieting strategy. Fat is high in calories, and according to a review of research from the May 2001 edition of “International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders,” fat is less filling and promotes a lower rate of calorie burning than other nutrients. Thus, lower fat foods such as hominy may be preferable to low-carbohydrate but fat-rich foods for weight loss.

High in Fiber

Another benefit of hominy is that it is high in fiber. Each cup of hominy provides 4 g of fiber, a nutrient that can help you lose weight because it stimulates satiety. Fiber is important for a number of other roles, as it also aids in the regulation of your blood sugar levels, encourages a healthy digestive system and may help reduce your cholesterol levels.

Low in Sugar

Hominy can also be beneficial due to its low sugar content. Each cup of hominy provides just 3 g of sugar. A low sugar content is beneficial because too much sugar can promote tooth decay, obesity, and according to research from the August 2004 edition of “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” too much sugar can also increase your risk of diabetes.

Yet others say that they are sodium heavy.  I don’t care.  I love hominy!  Hominy is like giant, soft corn nuts that taste like corn tortillas.  In fact – hominy is what they make masa from which is what you make tortillas from – so – that is their flavor.   If you are fearful, maybe buy a small can & add it to your favorite macaroni & cheese recipe.  I do not think you will be disappointed.

My first effort with this dish was for Cinco de Mayo.  I made a boat load of this shit & had to throw away a large portion because it wouldn’t fit into my slow cooker.  My large slow cooker.

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It is the white one on the far right of frame.  I didn’t cook the cauliflower before putting it in the cooker & I had never made anything like this before & I was completely winging it & making it up as I went and I was very nervous about the result.  The result was that this dish was one of the most popular I have ever served.  I will post the recipe at the end of this blog but know – this is a recipe that could probably feed 20-30 people.  If you make it – even for your large slow cooker – cut it in half or be ready to bake the remaining stuff in casserole dishes.  No need for a 6+ pound can of hominy unless you really want to cater a party with this stuff.

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Also – because I had never tried a dish like this before – I choked and added actual macaroni to the slow cooker.  The smaller recipe I am posting today has no pasta in it.  Also – the ratio of poblano to the overall dish is greater in the smaller recipe so it has a green cast to it.  The huge recipe is yellow.  I didn’t think I was going to post the huge recipe so I didn’t properly document the process or the results.  Mac & cheese & other casseroles are kinda hard to make look pretty sometimes and that held true with both versions of this dish.  Here is a look at the huge recipe that included pasta:

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The smaller recipe has a ton of roasted poblano (pasilla) peppers in it and no pasta and looks like this:

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I went very heavy on the cheese in the large recipe (as you can see) but tried to keep the smaller one moderately healthy.  In fact – by my calculations – the smaller no-mac recipe has under 2800 calories in the ENTIRE recipe making each of the eight servings about 350 calories. That ain’t bad for something that seems so rich & decadent & is so amazingly delicious.  I actually liked the no-mac version better.  I hope you try one of them some day!

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Cauliflower & Hominy “No Mac” & Cheese with Roasted Corn & Poblano Peppers

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower

1 29oz can hominy (yellow or white – no matter)

4 ears fresh corn (or canned or frozen)

5 poblano peppers (or less if heat bugs you) – OR – a few small cans of green chilies

1 10oz can Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 cup milk

3 cups of grated cheese

4 oz fresh mozzarella (optional)

1/2 cup panko (or other) breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

1 TBS pepper

Parsley – chopped for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Grill the corn in their husks & the poblanos over your burners until they are black on all sides.  Put the poblanos in a sealed plastic container & let them sweat while you peel the corn & cut the kernels from the cobs.  Then, under running water, peel off the black skins from the poblanos & seed them.  Puree the poblanos in a food processor.

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Boil the cauliflower (leaves & core trimmed) for about 10 minutes.  I like to cut the cauliflower into florets while it cooks or after I drain it because raw cauliflower crumbles & pops all over the place when you cut it.  Drain the cooked cauliflower.

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Drain the hominy.  In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower, the hominy, the pureed poblanos, the corn, the Cheddar soup, the milk and TWO CUPS of the cheese – reserving the last cup to top the casserole.  Add the salt & pepper & mix it all until blended.

Pour this mix into a greased casserole pan & top with remaining cup of cheese, fresh mozzarella & panko breadcrumbs.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden & it is bubbling up the sides.

Serve with diced parsley.  Fall in love!

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And now for the ingredients of the HUGE recipe.  After grilling the corn & poblanos as explained above – all I did was put everything (or as much as would fit – throwing quite a bit away) into my slow cooker & left it on high for about 4 hours – stirring frequently.  Voila!

INGREDIENTS

1 6lb can of hominy

1 large head of cauliflower – cut into florets (steam them if you want this dish to cook faster than 4 hours)

1 lb dry macaroni – cooked & drained

4 poblanos – roasted, peeled & seeded & pureed

4 large red chilies (optional) – roasted, peeled & seeded & pureed

4 ears corn – grilled in husks & cut off the cob (or use some canned or frozen)

1 pint heavy cream

8 TBS butter

7 cups grated cheese

2 10oz cans Cheddar Cheese soup

2 cups milk

S&P to taste

OPTIONAL – a 4 or 7 oz can each of either hot green chilies or mild green chilies – or both

Let me know if you try this & your results.