Spicy Grilled Cauliflower Kabobs

It’s not quite outdoor grilling weather here yet but we’re getting close; I can feel it in the air. Flowers are beginning to bloom and it’s just warm enough most days to go out without a jacket. Spring fever is definitely stirring within me… I’m finding myself wanting to eat outside on the back deck every evening like we do almost every day in the summertime.

To me, grilled food is warm weather food and since the craving was there but Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating, I decided to take the grilling indoors. Our dinner last night consisted of these spicy cauliflower kabobs served over garlic rice and a side of roasted sugar snap peas.

Did you know cauliflower is an excellent meatless alternative to shrimp? It’s true!

This recipe is based off an old favorite from my days of eating seafood and I can tell you, the same delicious flavor is still there with the cauliflower. Couple of tips: 1) pre-soak your skewers to avoid them turning black during the cooking process; and 2) if you opt for cooking these outside on a grill with a large grate, place the kabobs over a sheet of foil in case any cauliflower falls off during turning.

 

Begin with the cauliflower:

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and allow to cook 3-5 minutes, just until fork tender. Watch closely to avoid overcooking. Cauliflower that is too soft will fall apart on the grill!

Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Prepare the marinade:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce

2 Tablespoons garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon ketchup

1 Tablespoon chile paste

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.

Pour marinade over the cauliflower florets, reserving 1/4 cup or so for basting. Toss to coat.

Thread cauliflower onto skewers.

Preheat oiled or non-stick grill pan over Medium High heat.

Place kabobs in pan and allow to cook, turning occasionally, 5-7 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve warm or room temperature.

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Spicy Grilled Cauliflower Kabobs
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon chile paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and allow to cook 3-5 minutes, just until fork tender. Watch closely to avoid overcooking. Cauliflower that is too soft will fall apart on the grill!
  2. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Prepare the marinade: Whisk all remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.
  4. Pour marinade over the cauliflower florets, reserving ¼ cup or so for basting. Toss to coat.
  5. Thread cauliflower onto skewers.
  6. Preheat oiled or non-stick grill pan over Medium High heat.
  7. Place kabobs in pan and allow to cook, turning occasionally, 5-7 minutes, or until heated through.
  8. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Zucchini

This recipe was borne out of necessity… Mr. Cooks, Littlest and I were less than 24 hours away from heading out of town for a few days and I had zucchini, mushrooms, and a spaghetti squash to use or lose. CSA boxes are great but you really have to plan for what you’re getting each week because there’s only a small window of time before everything will begin to turn on you.

So, in addition to this yummy, low carb dish, we also enjoyed baked zucchini spears with a Vidalia onion dipping sauce… so good but that’s a recipe for another day. As you can see though, it was all about zucchini at our house that night and we ate every last bit of it!

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms & Zucchini

1 medium spaghetti squash

2 teaspoons olive oil, separated

1 pound baby bella mushrooms, thin sliced

1 medium zucchini, thin sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 1 Tablespoon fresh)

1/4 cup cream (heavy, light, coconut… whatever you prefer)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded – optional

 

Begin with the spaghetti squash

Preheat oven to 450°

Slice squash lengthwise down the middle. Scoop out seeds.

Rub lightly with 1 tsp. olive oil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and place flesh side down on a baking sheet.

Bake 30 minutes or until fork tender. Time will vary depending on the size of your squash.

When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh with a fork and set aside.

 

Prepare the Mushroom Zucchini Sauce

In a large pot, heat olive oil over Medium High heat.

Add the mushrooms and zucchini, stirring frequently 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.

Stir in the garlic and thyme. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes, reducing heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic.

Reduce heat to Low and slowly stir in the cream. Allow to simmer – but not boil – until heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add spaghetti squash (do this gradually as you may not use it all, depending on the size of your squash). Gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve warm.

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Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms & Zucchini
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 pound baby bella mushrooms, thin sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, thin sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 1 Tablespoon fresh)
  • ¼ cup cream (heavy, light, coconut... whatever you prefer)
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded - optional
Instructions
  1. Begin with the spaghetti squash
  2. Preheat oven to 450°
  3. Slice squash lengthwise down the middle. Scoop out seeds.
  4. Rub lightly with 1 tsp. olive oil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and place flesh side down on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until fork tender. Time will vary depending on the size of your squash.
  6. When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh with a fork and set aside.
  7. Prepare the Mushroom Zucchini Sauce
  8. In a large pot, heat olive oil over Medium High heat.
  9. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, stirring frequently 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  10. Stir in the garlic and thyme. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes, reducing heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic.
  11. Reduce heat to Low and slowly stir in the cream. Allow to simmer - but not boil - until heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  12. Add spaghetti squash (do this gradually as you may not use it all, depending on the size of your squash). Gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve warm.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes, all the recipes here, as of the last few years, are meat-free but I felt compelled to point out the vegetarian status of this dish for one reason:  Traditional spaghetti carbonara includes pancetta. This one, clearly, does not. Instead, I’m using smoked tofu. If you’re not a lover of tofu, and I would place myself squarely in that category, I say this to you: Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. I  was pleasantly surprised by the smoked variety, especially when sliced very thin.

Also, the recipe calls for pea tips. No big deal if they’re not available in your market; I think spinach or any other mild-flavored green would work well here.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara

6 ounces spaghetti

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 – 11-ounce package smoked tofu, cubed and thin-sliced

2 green onions, sliced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 oz. pea tips, rough chopped

2 T butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 eggs, beaten

 

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Scoop out 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, drain the rest, and set pasta aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.

Add green onions and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, another 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the pea tips and cook just until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat and add the cooked spaghetti, butter, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup pasta water. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring well to combine.

To the beaten eggs, slowly stir in 1/4 cup pasta water. Pour over pasta and stir quickly until egg is evenly distributed. Remove from heat, garnish with any additional green onions and Parmesan. Serve warm.

 

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Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara
 
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A tasty vegetarian twist on an Italian comfort food classic.
Author:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 - 11-ounce package smoked tofu, cubed and thin-sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 oz. pea tips, rough chopped
  • 2 T butter
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Scoop out 1½ cups of the cooking water, drain the rest, and set pasta aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.
  3. Add green onions and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pea tips and cook just until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Reduce heat and add the cooked spaghetti, butter, Parmesan, and ¾ cup pasta water. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring well to combine.
  7. To the beaten eggs, slowly stir in ¼ cup pasta water. Pour over pasta and stir quickly until egg is evenly distributed. Remove from heat, garnish with any additional green onions and Parmesan. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Blue Apron.

Risotto with Mushrooms and Kale

I love the idea of supporting small, local farms. So, with that in mind, we recently began subscribing to regular delivery of CSA boxes. Our first box arrived last week and in it was an ingredient I was unfamiliar with – red Russian kale. This variety looks and cooks like regular kale but the flavor is less bitter, so it’s even tasty raw in a salad. I did use the Russian kale in this risotto but also think whichever variety you have on hand would work fine.

Some say risotto is a fussy and complicated dish to make well but I disagree. The trick is to not get in a hurry. When you pour in the broth towards the end, don’t rush it! Too much liquid at once will result in a sloppy mess but a more gradual approach, allowing the broth plenty of time to absorb into the rice will yield a delicious meal you’ll be proud to serve anytime.

For a simple salad: toss 3 cups kale with a touch of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Allow to sit at room temp. while you make the risotto.

Risotto with Mushrooms and Kale

1 1/2 T butter

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup cremini mushrooms, stems removed & chopped

2 cups kale, stems removed & rough chopped

1 T shallot, minced

1/4 tsp. sea salt

3/4 cup Arborio rice

1/3 cup white wine

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

salt & pepper, to taste

 

Melt butter a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, kale, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes or until softened and fragrant.

Stir in the minced shallot and rice; cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

Add white wine and gently stir until majority of liquid is reduced.

Gradually add broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition.

Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Let stand a few minutes before serving warm.

 

Risotto with Mushrooms and Kale
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ T butter
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, stems removed & chopped
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed & rough chopped
  • 1 T shallot, minced
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¾ cup Arborio rice
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt butter a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, kale, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes or until softened and fragrant.
  2. Stir in the minced shallot and rice; cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add white wine and gently stir until majority of liquid is reduced.
  4. Gradually add broth, ¼ cup at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Let stand a few minutes before serving warm.

Quick and Easy ~ Egg Salad

Everyone seems to have their own take on egg salad with pretty strong opinions on what makes a good one. This is the way I do it.

I consider this a solid base recipe because I am sometimes known to alter the ingredients based on mood and whats available in the fridge. For example, I may substitute the yellow mustard with Dijon or swap out the green onions for dill pickle relish. All ingredient amounts are really “to taste” so play around and find what suits you.

Serve your creation over a big bed of mixed greens, spread it on bread for a classic sandwich, or scoop it right out of the bowl and onto crackers for a tasty snack.

 

Quick & Easy ~ Egg Salad

6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard

1/4 cup celery, diced

1 Tablespoon green onions, sliced

1 Tablespoon shallot, small diced

salt & pepper, to taste

paprika, for garnish

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Rough chop the eggs and place in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add mayonnaise, mustard, celery, green onions, and shallot. Mix with a spoon until well blended. Season to taste and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until chilled.

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Quick and Easy ~ Egg Salad
 
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6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled ¼ cup mayonnaise 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard ¼ cup celery, diced 1 Tablespoon green onions, sliced 1 Tablespoon shallot, small diced salt & pepper, to taste paprika, for garnish
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon green onions, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon shallot, small diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • paprika, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Rough chop the eggs and place in a medium size mixing bowl.
  2. Add mayonnaise, mustard, celery, green onions, and shallot. Mix with a spoon until well blended. Season to taste and sprinkle lightly with paprika.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until chilled.

Crustless Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Upon seeing what I was serving for dinner last night our oldest son, who is 22, commented that he was, “afraid the spinach taste was just going to be too much”. This, before he took the first bite and then proceeded to inhale his portion at an impressive rate of speed then and go back for seconds.

The 3-year old toddler also cleaned her plate so I think it’s safe to say this recipe is kid-approved! Served with an easy bruschetta and sliced baguette, this was a quick and satisfying meal enjoyed by the whole family.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

1 tsp. olive oil

1 TBSP butter

1 lb. fresh spinach leaves

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 eggs, beaten

1 8-oz. pkg, cremini mushrooms, rough chopped, stems removed

3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled _____________________________________________________________________ Preheat oven to 350°

Roast the mushrooms: Toss mushrooms with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread mushrooms on prepared baking sheet and allow to roast 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle and rough chop.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.

Add spinach and cook until beginning to wilt.

Add onion and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spinach is wilted and onion has softened, 3-5 minutes.

Stir in garlic for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in eggs, distributing spinach and mushrooms evenly.

Pour into prepared quiche dish and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Bake 20 minutes or until set. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Slow Cooked Mac and Cheese

Yesterday, as I was stating into the pantry and thinking of what to make for the kids’ breakfast, I realized we had a variety of partially used packages of pasta…. elbow, rigatoni, rotini, ditalini… you get the idea.

I decided to first eliminate the mini farfalle and when I referred to them as bow ties, my youngest immediately offered a correction. As far as she’s concerned, that shape is known as “hair bows”. Sounds good to me.

We proceeded to throw together a batch of hair bow and elbow mac & cheese for lunch. What I love about this recipe is that it is super kid-friendly and easily customizable to whatever pastas and cheeses you need to use up. For a little nutritional boost, I sometimes stir in some cooked veggies just prior to serving.

Slow Cooked Mac & Cheese

1 lb. package small size pasta

3 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups half & half (or non-dairy creamer)

1 1/2 cups milk (almond milk works great)

1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

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Stir all ingredients together in a medium size slow cooker.

Cover and cook on Low approximately 2 hours.

Time will vary depending on pasta size so check on it and stir gently every 30-45 minutes.

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