Mashed Cauliflower with Onions and Parmesan

Inspiration: I began eating mashed cauliflower as a replacement for mashed potatoes, but you know what? I really, really love it now for what it is and crave it even over mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect option for any type of comfort meal!

What we Loved: I really enjoy mashed cauliflower just with some lots of butter and salt, but by adding Parmesan and loads of onions, it’s really over the top delicious. I could probably eat this for a meal several times a week and be a happy girl. The Parmesan adds a wonderful nutty and cheesy flavor, and the onions make the entire dish taste so rich and, well, oniony. With that combination of strong flavors, you really don’t need any butter or other toppings at all. We both love this preparation and would list it as our favorite way (so far) to enjoy mashed cauliflower.

Helpful Hints: You really can’t have too many onions in this recipe. That sweet, buttery sauteed flavor really is the best part of the dish. I’ve made it several times, and each time, I throw in (a lot) more onions. And, each time, I think that next time, I’ll add more onions :)

Mashed Cauliflower with Onions and Parmesan
Source: Original recipe

I’m afraid that this recipe is going to be rather imprecise. Use as much or as little of the ingredients as you prefer.

Extra virgin olive oil
Onion,  diced
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
Splash of milk
Kosher salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions, and saute until softened, approximately 5 minutes.

2. Place the cauliflower in a sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Drain the cauliflower, and place it in a food processor.

3. Puree the cauliflower with a pat of butter and a splash of milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Place the mashed cauliflower back into the sauce pan. Mix in the onions and Parmesan. Cover over low heat to keep warm, or serve immediately.

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Refrigerator Pickles

Inspiration: What to do with about 30 pickling cucumbers given to us by Brandon’s parents? There was really no other choice :)

What we Loved: Wow, these are some good pickles. Every time that Brandon ate any, I think that’s what he said :) They’re really the freshest pickles that we’ve ever tasted, with a very bright cucumber flavor that you just don’t find in store-bought pickles. Crispy, crunchy, garlicy, and salty. And a great bonus is that these are dead simple to make (no canning involved!), and they last a long time in the fridge. We had ours for about a month and a half, and they were still perfectly crispy at the end.

Helpful Hints: I made four different kinds of pickles – spears, chunks, slices, and whole pickles – and while they all turned out well and we loved all of them, Brandon and I both picked the spears as our favorite. I think there’s just something about that spear shape that we love, and the spears just seemed to have with the best texture and crunch of the bunch.  I reduced the salt and increased the vinegar from the original recipe and was happy with that mix, but you can see variations on the recipe at either site listed below. I also experimented with using whole garlic cloves, minced garlic, and crushed garlic, and as far as I could tell, the way that the garlic was prepared made no difference in the end flavor. Just make sure to use plenty of garlic, because I think it’s what really gives pickles their classic pickly taste. I also added coriander seeds to the recipe because we love them, and I would really recommend it. They add an incredible burst of flavor and crunch.

Refrigerator Pickles
Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Delicious Meliscious

For the Brine
*In total, I ended up making three batches of brine to result in six large jars of pickles. I would recommend mixing up one batch of brine as listed below, and then making more batches if necessary to use all of your cucumbers.

3 cups water
8 tablespoons vinegar (I used cider vinegar, but white vinegar will also work)
2 tablespoons kosher salt

For the Pickles
Coriander seeds
Pickling cucmbers

1. Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a pitcher, mixing well to combine.

2. Slice the cucumbers according to preference. Place the cucumbers in the canning jars with a good amount of garlic, dill and coriander seeds.

3. Pour some brine into each jar until it is full.

4. Put the lid on the jars, shake to combine everything well, and refrigerate for at least two days before eating.

Classic Deviled Eggs

*Photo Updated July 2011

Inspiration: Earlier this summer, B and I went out to eat with my parents at a completely random roadhouse restaurant for some (sublime) BBQ, and we ending up ordering pulled pork and brisket platters with green beans/ham, cornbread, and deviled eggs. Living in Michigan, I always thought of deviled eggs as nothing but a pretty standard cookout/party snack, but isn’t the idea of a using them as a side dish with some complimenting Southern flavors so much better? When B decided to grill up a pork shoulder for pulled pork, the deviled eggs went right onto our plates (along with some green beans that were also inspired from our roadhouse meal).

What we Loved: I feel like deviled eggs are one of those dishes that can be really good or very, very terrible. What’s great about this recipe is that it’s a very classic, mild preparation that tastes exactly how you would think a deviled egg should taste. Creamy, mild, and refreshing. I’m always turned off by deviled eggs that have a texture that is too watery (the worst!) or a flavor that is too mustardy/intense, so I really love that this recipe doesn’t wander anywhere near that territory. Perfect consistency and flavor!

Helpful Hints: I used smoked paprika, honey mustard, and apple cider vinegar in these eggs, but you could of course vary the types of ingredients that you use to your liking. That’s what so great about deviled eggs!

Classic Deviled Eggs
Source: Mom

6 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Paprika, to taste

1. Place the eggs in a small pot.  Completely cover with cold water, and then cover the pan. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Cook for 12 minutes, and then immediately place the eggs into the fridge to cool.

2. When the eggs are chilled, slice each one in half. Carefully remove the yolks into a bowl and combine with the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

3. Carefully stuff each egg with some of the filling. Top with paprika.

Sauerkraut with Bacon, Onions, and Caraway Seeds

Inspiration: Sauerkraut used to be one of the foods that I wouldn’t go near. For someone who loves food as much as I do, I can hardly believe how different I used to be just a few years back, with my long list of foods that I just wouldn’t touch. These days, I’ll give anything and everything a whirl, and I really believe that you can find some of your favorite foods that way. When B and I went to Munich last year, we ate a lot of sauerkraut, and I really fell in love with it there. It was cooked differently than it is here, being much more flavorful, savory, and brothy, but I really have grown to like sauerkraut in any form. With this recipe, I was hoping to turn some plain sauerkraut into something a little more complex and flavorful.

What we Loved: B and I love the flavor of caraway seeds. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re what give rye bread its great rye bread flavor, and they really pair wonderfully with sauerkraut or shredded cabbage salads. And is there any dish that’s not improved with the addition of bacon and sauteed onions? Sometimes side dishes with just a few ingredients really do make for the best accompaniments to a main dish, and this was just that. A simple, tasty recipe. I served it with some pan fried bratwurst and mustard for a nice, German-inspired meal.

Helpful Hints: I’d suggest using a lot of bacon, onions, and caraway seeds. Sauerkraut has such a strong, sour flavor that it will really absorb and hide the other flavors if you don’t use a lot of them.

Sauerkraut with Bacon, Onions, and Caraway Seeds
Source: Original recipe

This is really the simplest recipe. Use as much or as little of the ingredients as you’d like.

Bacon, chopped
Onion, cut into thin slices
Caraway seeds

1. Place the bacon in a saute pan, and cook over medium low heat until crispy. Place the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Discard some of the bacon grease if there is an excessive amount, but leave enough in the pan to saute the onions.

2. Add the onions to the pan, and cook until browned and softened, approximately 15 minutes. Cook until caramelized if you’d like.

3. Add the sauerkraut, bacon, and caraway seeds to the pan. Mix everything together, and cook until heated through.


Lima Beans with Prosciutto


*Photo and content updated December 2012*

Inspiration: Every year for Valentine’s Day, I like to make Brandon and myself a nice supper. This year, I had stuffed pork loin and cauliflower gratin on the menu, and I decided to complete the meal with a lima bean side dish, because they’re definitely a favorite food in our house.

What We Loved: To me, the best thing about lima beans is their texture. They’re just so uniquely and awesomely creamy. Brandon and I both really love them, and they tasted great in this simple preparation. The prosciutto added a nice, salty flavor and a wonderful crispy texture. And with just a few good pats of rich butter and some salt and black pepper for seasoning, these couldn’t be easier to prepare. Sometimes, simple recipes really are the best.

Tips: The only little piece of advice that I want to offer here is to be careful when seasoning with salt. Prosciutto is very salty on its own, so you may need less that you would typically add.

Lima Beans with Prosciutto
Source: 80 Breakfasts

1 cup frozen lima beans
3-4 slices prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Add the lima beans to a saucepan, and cook according to package instructions. I added water to the pan, steamed the lima beans for approximately 20 minutes, and then drained the water.

2. Meanwhile, melt a pat of butter in a small saute pan. Add the prosciutto slices, and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the lima beans to the pan with the prosciutto. Mix in another good pat of butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.