Cauliflower “Cream” Sauce over Rice

You’ve probably already pinned this recipe – it is definitely going Pinterest-viral right now.  This recipe is Pinch of Yum’s Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice.  She also uses the same sauce to make other stuff, like Pasta Alfredo.

No, it is not a low-carb recipe for rice that is actually grated cauliflower.  It is actual brown rice with a faux cream sauce.  We’ve all been duped by low calorie cream sauces that just leave a literal bad taste in our mouths.  This one, though… this one is something special.  The sauce ingredients: cauliflower, vegetable broth, a little milk (which can be left out if you don’t want the dairy), and seasoning.

I kept test-tasting the sauce throughout the process of cooking and was thoroughly unconvinced this sauce was gonna successfully masquerade as anything other than cauliflower.  When I sat down to eat, I was surprised – it was quite good.  BUT, when I ate leftovers the next day andddd the day after that, I was in absolute health heaven.  As in, you have no idea that it’s healthy.

In addition to the sauce, you use whole grain rice, garlic, a little bit of butter, and part-skim mozzarella cheese (again, this would still be delicious if you made this dairy-free).   I only used 4 cloves of garlic, less than the original recipe called for, because some reviews said it was overly garlicky – this was a big mistake.  I will definitely use a full 8 cloves next time.  You can top this dish with some protein – I added sliced chicken breast.

I do recommend letting this recipe sit for hours before eating for the best taste.  As the cauliflower sauce sits with the rice, it tastes less and less like.. well, cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice – from Pinch of Yum

  • 6-8 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1½ cups brown rice blend
  • Salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6-8 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup part-skim Mozzarella cheese for topping
  • Protein for topping (I added sliced chicken breast)
  • Parsley for garnishment

Cook the rice according to package directions. Set aside.  Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and boil for about 10 minutes, until tender. Save the broth when straining.

Transfer cauliflower pieces to a blender or food processor.  Add milk and a couple of cups of the broth/water mixture you saved to the blender.  Puree the cauliflower, adding any additional vegetable broth required to get a smooth, creamy consistency.

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Season the sauce heavily – salt, pepper (I use black and red pepper).  Pour over the cooked rice and stir to combine.  Try to let this mixture sit for awhile, as it gets better the longer it melds.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter and add the garlic, sauteing over low heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the creamy rice mixture and stir until butter and garlic is incorporated. Stir cheese throughout the rice to get it melted.

Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve topped with sliced chicken breast and parsley (as well as any additional cheese you may want to sneak in).  Enjoy – and SAVE LEFTOVERS!

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DIY Baby Birthday Banner

DIY Baby Birthday Banner

Ok, this DIY is a throwback to a birthday banner I made for my godson Lawson last year.   Not only was it easy, but it was so much fun to make!!  It came out so cute that I made another one for my niece Mallie.

This throwback makes me sad.  Lawson was so much tinier!!  Now he is a big brother.

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DIY Birthday Banner – from http://fromdahliastodoxies.blogspot.com/2012/11/baby-birthday-banner-tutorial.html

Things you will need:

  • 8 – 10 sheets of paper with baby faces printed on them (this is a strange statement)
  • 2 white posterboards
  • patterned paper – I used those fun scrapbook papers and bought a different one for each face, so 8 pieces.
  • double stick tape
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • tissue paper
  • ribbon

For all the dirty details, head on over to the link above, where there are great directions.  One thing I did differently was to use color photos of Lawson, rather than black-and-white.  Also, I didn’t print the pictures on card stock (didn’t have any) – instead, I printed on normal paper and and glued them to a poster board.

Finally, make sure you find pictures of the baby with the funnest expressions, like his tongue sticking out or even ones where he is wearing sunglasses.

Have fun with this project!!  If anything, it’s just fun to go through old pictures of the little one.

Posted in DIY

World’s Best Potato Salad

I did not come up with the name for this potato salad.  My mom did, which means it’s true – it is the world’s best.  No seriously, it is freakin delicious.  It is the perfect accompaniment to Mom’s Chicken and Andouille Gumbo.

Potato salad is one of my nonsensical exceptions to my weirdness over mayonnaise.  It pains me to make this dish, which makes me measure a cup of mayo.  Haha.  Mayo just does not belong in most things (party dips, gross).  I have a nacho recipe that calls for mayo – no.  But, mayo has its place, and it’s in this recipe.  Or chicken salad.  Or deviled eggs.  Or very thinly put on a sammich.  Biting into a mayonnaise poboy makes me sad.

Anyway, back to this recipe.  It is soooo good that I don’t care if there’s a jar of mayo in it.  A lot of seasoning is put into it.  Right after I mixed the seasoning in, I tasted it and thought it was overpowering.  Just let the seasoning soak into the potatoes and eggs for a little bit, and it’s fantastic.   Finally, this makes a good bit of potato salad (at least 10 servings).

World’s Best Potato Salad

  • 6 medium red potatoes
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 T mustard (plain yellow kind)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

Boil potatoes and eggs together, removing eggs from boiling water after 10 minutes. Cut eggs in half and remove yolks. Dice egg whites and put in bowl with parsley, onions, celery.

Remove potatoes after 45 min (or when potato easily breaks with a fork) and peel under cool water. Dice potatoes into 1 inch cubes and toss with above ingredients. In a separate bow, mix egg yolks (which i crumbled in my hands first), mustard, mayo and powdered seasonings. Mix with potatoes, etc. Check for additional salt, if needed.  Serve at room temp or fridge-cold, per your preference.

Try to make this enough ahead of time to let the potato salad sit for a couple hours for the seasonings to soak in.  I did this in the fridge but then let the potato salad return to room temp before serving because duh.

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Mom’s Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I’m sure everyone thinks theyyy momma makes the best gumbo, but I assure you, my momma does.  This is my all-time, number one comfort dish.  When I’ve been away from home too long or if I’m feeling sickly, this is all I want to eat.  On my last trip home, I ate this three nights.

Gumbo should never be rushed.  It is something you should devote a whole day to (Sunday, IMO).  That is why this recipe makes so much gumbo – you don’t want to make this every time you want gumbo.  Gumbo freezes wonderfully.

I like to give myself two days to make gumbo b/c I don’t like to work at it all day!  On Day 1, I do all the chopping work and I cook my chicken and make my broth.  This also makes it easier to scrape the grease of your broth after refrigerating it overnight.  Then on Day 2, all you have to do is make a roux and let things simmer for a few hours!

This time making it, I served it at my Mardi Gras party.  As is custom, I served it with amazing potato salad (recipe to follow) – it is up to you whether you want to stir it in your gumbo like some Louisianians do or keep it on the side.  I compromise and eat it on the side, but lightly dip each spoonful in my gumbo.

Don’t judge the obvious fact that this sausage is NOT andouille – I’m in Charleston, people!!  I could have gone searching for some, but I was super rushed.  Also, I know these coo-yons wouldn’t know the difference. :)

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

  • 2 large chickens, each around 5.5 pounds, cleaned – I buy the already cut up ones
  • 1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound of andouille, sliced – if you don’t have this in your area, just double your smoked sausage
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped – and save the end part you normally throw out
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped – and save the end parts you normally throw out
  • 2 medium to large onions, chopped – and save the ends and skin parts you normally throw out
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped – and save the stem part you normally throw out
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt, cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of flour

Step 1: make your broth and cook your chicken

Wash all of the saved parts of the veggies (normally thrown away) until clean.  These veggies are gonna help make your stock more flavorful.  Put 2 quarts of water in a large (seriously, large) stockpot.  Add the garbage veggies (extras), 1 tbsp Lawry’s seasoned , 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, and chicken to the pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Then, lower your heat, but keep at a gentle boil, for about 1 hour until the chicken is cooked.

Remove the chicken and then strain your broth. (In other words, you are keeping the brothy part – a little over 2 quarts – and throwing away the garbage veggies.)  Put your broth in the refrigerator and refrigerate your broth overnight if you can.  If you can’t, skim the fat off the top of your broth as best you can.

Debone and chop up all your chicken.  Put in a gallon zipper and refrigerate.

Step 2:  Make that roux and let it get yummy

If you have refrigerated your broth overnight, the fat has congealed to the top – remove that fat.

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Using your LARGE pot, heat your oil over medium heat.  Add 2 cups of flour and whisk until a dark caramel.  Whisk constantly.  This is the making of your roux.  Don’t rush it.  Don’t burn it. Not stirring or whisking constantly will cause the flour to burn and your roux is ruined.  Here is the coloring you’ll see happen with your roux.

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After your roux turns a dark caramel, add your chopped onions.  This will caramelize and release sugars and darken your roux.  After 5-10 minutes, add bell pepper, celery, and garlic.  Saute 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.

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Add reserved broth, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne.  Keep at a low boil and keep covered.  Stir often.  After 45 mins to 1 hour, add sliced sausage and andouille and 4 cups of water.  Cook another hour.  Skim fat off the top layer.

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Add chopped green onion and parsley, chopped chicken, and 2 cups water. Cook another 1/2 hour.  Add additional water according to desired consistency (usually around 1 cup).

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Serve it over fluffy white rice!!!

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(Yes, this is a pic from home with real andouille.)

King Cake Cookies

Oh well it’s Carnival Time, and everybody’s having fun!  This was my first Mardi Gras season away from Louisiana.  I do not miss the crowds and the four day binges (Muses through Bacchus), but I do miss the family gatherings and parade-watching.  So I had to have a little Mardi Gras partayyyy this weekend.  I looked into ordering a King Cake but did not want to drop $40+ on shipping one.  I found this recipe for King Cake Cookies, and they were ahhh-mazing.

These were some of the best cookies I’ve ever made.  They are kind of like snickerdoodles (cinnamon sugar cookies) with a twist.  I loved the addition of honey and lemon extract.  You could decorate these for whatever holiday it is – St. Patrick’s, Christmas, etc…

You should make these tonight or tomorrow to celebrate Fat Tuesday!!

King Cake Cookies - from Nola Mommy

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 2 Tbs ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cream of tarter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 cup warm water (may add more if needed), divided
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract, divided
  • Food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, cream butter, 1¼ cups sugar, and ½ Tbs ground cinnamon until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, honey, vanilla and lemon extracts.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cream of tarter and gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
In a shallow bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon.  Form your cookies in a ball, about one tablespoon each.  Roll the ball in the sugar cinnamon mixture and flatten slightly.  Place on greased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.  These cookies won’t spread much, and you may not think they are done.  Just let them cool completely on wire racks and they will set and harden.
For the icing:
Making three batches, add 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/3 cup of warm water (add a little at a time until you reach desired consistency), and 1 tsp vanilla extract to each bowl/batch.  Dye each batch purple, green, and yellow with your food coloring.  Place each batch of icing into a piping bag (or a sandwich bag) and cut off a tip to pipe the icing onto the cookies.  Ice your cookies in Mardi Gras colors!  The icing will set.
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Yes, that is my floor.  Limited counterspace in my tiny house means icing my cookies on da flo’.
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Here’s my hubby in his MG gear!
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Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!!!

Cute Food for Valentine’s Day

This morning, I remembered why I don’t make pretty food.  I am bad at making pretty food – piped icing is the first example that comes to mind. Despite all my instincts telling me not to fall for heart-shaped food, I just couldn’t resist!  Pinterest was filled with heart-shaped foods to make for your lova.  I attempted (and failed and re-attempted) heart shaped bacon and a heart shaped breakfast sandwich.

Actually, I really shouldn’t hate on the bacon.  It was delicious (shocking) and so easy.  Directions: shape bacon into heart and bake at 400 degrees.  If any of you aren’t baking your bacon, you need to start yesterday.  So much easier, cooks evenly, and no splatter.  But then you don’t have delicious bacon grease on the stove top to cook your other breakfast deliciousness in.

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If you want a tutorial beyond “shape bacon into heart and bake,” go here.

Now for the Valentine’s Day Toad in a Hole (or whatever you call it).  This looked so simple and so wasn’t that it was quite humorous.  I destroyed about 9 eggs to get one adequate looking one in the hole.   However, it was cute, flaws and all.

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I loved this play on a traditional Toad in a Hole.  Rather than having one slice of toast with an egg in the middle, you basically grill up a sandwich, then cut the hole (here, a heart) out for the egg.  Tip:  Stick to cheese or jam or something easy in the middle of the sandwich.  My first attempt had ham in the sandwich, and it was way too hard to cut out the shape cleanly.

Valentine’s Toad in a Heart - originally from this site

Make a grilled sandwich as you normally would.  I buttered the outside pieces of the bread and put mild cheddar cheese inside the sandwich.  Grill as normal.  When you flip your sandwich to grill the second side, leave it less than fully toasted, as it will cook more when you add the egg.

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Remove from grill and attempt to cut a heart out from the sandwich.  A paring knife would work best, I think.  I tried an all-utility knife and then a serrated knife, and neither worked perfectly.

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Return sandwich to the grill, with the more toasted side facing up.  Add your egg.  This is soooome tricky!  If you are buying eggs for this project, buy smaller eggs.  My first sandwich had such a jumbo yolk that it swallowed the whole heart.  Another tough part is making sure your egg white doesn’t spill over onto the sandwich, which makes it soggy and gross.

For best results, separate an egg yolk from the egg white.  (I would also maybe make a little egg wash from the egg white to make it less difficult to spread in the heart.)  Carefully put the egg yolk into the center of the heart – I broke my first yolk, of course.  Fill the rest of the heart carefully with egg whites.  Cover your pan and finish grilling until the egg is cooked.

Serve sandwich with the little cut-out heart and your heart bacon!!

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Admittedly, it was totally worth the effort when I saw Geoff’s face.  It was so cute.

However, I am so thankful to be going OUT to dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Salsa Verde Burgers

My goal when cooking low-fat foods is that no one knows it is low-fat.  I simply do not come from a family where we enjoy munching on broccoli or kale.  Just make me think the food is bad for me, please!  Perfect example – these burgers I made this week from Skinny Taste - in my opinion, the best site for healthy recipes on the whole of the internet.

These are so easy to make – especially since I use jarred salsa (Mom, don’t shake your head at me).  You add no binding or sauce to your ground beef.  Just mold your patties, slightly season, and grill it up.  The addition of melty cheese, avocado, and salsa ensure that your low fat ground beef does not come off as dry.   I haven’t been able to get these burgers off my mind!

Salsa Verde Burgers – makes 4 burger, head on over to Skinny Taste for nutritional information

  • cooking spray
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 (93% lean) beef patties, 4.75 oz each
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde, homemade or store bought (I used Herdez brand, leftover from some enchiladas I previously made).  If you do use store-bought, add some fresh cilantro or chopped onion or jalapeño – something to make it taste less “out of a bottle.”
  • 4 slices Sargento reduced fat pepper jack cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • cilantro, optional
  • sliced avocado (from 1 medium haas)

Form your patties and salt and pepper your beef.  Heat a skillet or grill over high heat. When hot, spray with oil and add the patties. Season with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes on each side, to your desired liking. I made fat and tall burgers since my buns were small, so they took a while to cook.  Add the cheese and cover. Cook to melt, about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, toast your buns in a hot oven if you’re smart.  After, assemble your burgers by topping the beef and cheese with around 2 tablespoons of salsa verde, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, and avocado slices.  We also generously added a Mexican hot sauce.  Enjoy!!! And if it’s two of you, anxiously await leftovers.

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Here’s a side view to really appreciate the melted curtain of cheese.

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