Bobbe’s Vegetable Gratin

I made this one night on a whim and it’s become one of our favorite side dishes. It freezes well and is great left-over too!

Start by chopping all of your vegetables. I didn’t photograph all of them, assuming everyone knows what chopped onions and mushrooms look like as well as shredded carrots. The truth of why this photo is posted?  I think this is a pretty picture.

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I used two things in this recipe that you might not have readily on hand. The first is a basic thing you can get at the store: Arrowroot. This is thickening agent that I am told is paleo. You can also use corn starch or even a handful of panko bread crumbs. The second is from Trader Joe’s (and you can totally leave it out if you can’t get it). It’s Trader Joe’s “21 Seasoning Salute”. I really like it because it adds a little more depth of flavor with just a hint of spice. If you can’t find this, just use a Tbsp of Italian seasoning and some dried thyme.

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Then you start with sauteing your onions and carrots. I let them go a little and then add in my chives and salt and pepper. I would also add the mushrooms once these are starting to get soft. I didn’t have mushrooms when I made this last night, so you won’t see them pictured.

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I was using frozen spinach last night so I added it here. USUALLY I make this with fresh spinach. which I think is more fun. IF you use the fresh spinach, wait until the end to add it. Seasoned collard greens are delicious in this too.

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After your veggies are just turning soft, it’s time to add the squash. I wait until later to add the squash because it softens up pretty quickly and you don’t want to over cook it and have a squishy gratin. That’s never cool.

Put the squash in and do your best to incorporate it. Season it again with more pepper and your dry seasonings. I usually will cover the pan at this point and allow the squash to steam a bit.

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Then add the cream. Stir and let cook for about five minutes to heat through. Sprinkle on the arrowroot and stir until it dissolves.

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Once it’s simmering (takes about 5 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in your cheese. We like it really cheesy so I always add more than the recipe calls for but you do YOU.

Here is what it looks like with the cheese stirred in and transferred to a baking dish.

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 Then all this is left to do is top it with fried onions. We love spice, so we usually do a combination of fried onions and fried jalapeños. Then sprinkle a little cheese in with them (optional).

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This next photo is how we usually make it-completely covered with yummy goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick 
  • 3-4 mushrooms sliced (button or cremini work well)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating dish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 cups cream
  • 2 tablespoons Arrowroot 
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino/Romano
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (Use your favorite. I like Gouda or Gruyere)3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups prepared fried onions & jalapeños if you like (French’s or whatever brand you like)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. This dish can be made and baked in a cast iron skillet or you can sauté the veggies, add the cream and cheeses and then transfer it to a casserole dish for baking.
  2. Over medium heat, sauté onions in the olive oil until almost translucent. Add the garlic and stir, then add in the squash, zucchini and sliced mushrooms. Season liberally with salt, pepper, thyme and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. Cover the dish for about 4 minutes. Stir well, then stir in the fresh spinach.
  3. When the spinach has wilted a bit, add the cream bringing it up to a simmer. (About 5 minutes) Stir in the arrowroot. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in the cheese, reserving 1-2 Tablespoons for the top.
  5. Transfer to a casserole dish (optional), top with fried onions, remaining cheese and fried jalapeños (optional).
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes until the top is crispy, brown and bubbly.

Dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Casserole

I wasn’t prepared to love this as much as I did. Try it. You will see for yourself!

Yesterday, I started over on my keto program. I had been doing it in earnest all the way through Lent and then poof, I fell off the wagon. I could blame it on the fact that I am a potato chip addict and every time I visit my mother she insists on putting out bowl after bowl of junk food. Every Thursday she puts out a bowl of chips, a bowl of Cheetos, a bowl of Doritos, etc. Then she chides me until I humor her and eat some. (Anyone else have a person like this around?) In her defense, she’s in her mid-eighties and she’s hard-wired like this. Plus, I should have better will power.

I like to start my projects on Mondays, so yesterday was the day to re-invest in the keto lifestyle. Sunday night I planned out my weekly menu and last night was the night to try the cauliflower casserole! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to turn out as delicious as it did! Charlie and I both got up this morning talking about how great it was and how neither of us felt hungry for breakfast.

The instructions and the ingredients are very basic, so here you will see only the last steps. This is what it looked like all mixed together prior to adding the cheese and bacon toppings. I could have just baked it like this and it would have been great.

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Add the remainder of the cheese on top:

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Then add the last of the bacon. Don’t skip this step. The extra bacon makes the house smell divine and it adds a little bit more of a smokey flavor to the dish.

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Here it is freshly out of the oven. I didn’t wait for it to get really brown.

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Dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Casserole (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 head fresh cauliflower
8 oz. cheddar cheese, freshly grated, divided
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup full fat cream
2 bunches green onion, chopped
6 pieces of bacon, cooked
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Place in a microwave safe bowl with a half cup of water and cover. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is steamed through. (I took mine out at about 4 minutes because I wanted it to still have a bite to it. Keep in mind, it is still going to be baked.) Drain into a colander.

Cook the bacon (I used the microwave for mine), chop it up and set it aside.

In a separate bowl, combine 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 6 oz. each of the cheddar and Jack cheeses, salt and pepper, and garlic. Add the cream a little bit at a time until the mixture is combined. Add the bacon (reserve 1 ½ Tablespoons for the top) and green onion; then add it all to the cauliflower. Stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish.

Smooth the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and bacon over the top.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

PS- If you don’t feel like grating your own cheese, you may substitute with pre-shredded. Keep in mind that pre-shredded cheese never has the same flavor as freshly grated.


Nutrition information:

1 serving is 1/8th of the casserole.

Calories: 379, Fat: 27g, Net carbs: 8, Total carbs: 10, Protein: 23g,Fiber: 2g


Here is another cauliflower recipe that I adore.


Seriously, does anyone else out there have a person who is constantly trying to sabotage your eating plan? How do you handle it?

 

 

Neato Keto Spicy Spaghetti Squash

The other night I wanted an easy side dish to go along with some swordfish. Hence, this recipe was born.

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I might be the only person on the planet who isn’t okay with subbing spaghetti squash for real noodles. (I think I’ve said this before, come to think of it.) Yet, for whatever reason, I am continually picking them up at the store. I liken it to my feelings about eggs. I really want to like them. I do love the way they look, but more often than not, I’m underwhelmed.

Enter this recipe for Spicy Spaghetti squash.

The other night I was planning on making cilantro lime swordfish. Ordinarily,  I’d pair the fish with some form of rice or noodle, but since these things are off-limits to me right now, I needed to get creative. Besides, the poor little squash had been sitting on my kitchen table for weeks and I felt sorry for it.

I decided to try and see if I could make a spaghetti squash dish that would compliment the cilantro/lime flavors in the fish. First I chopped up some peppers (hot and mild) & onions (red and yellow) and sauteed them in butter and olive oil.

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Meanwhile I had my spaghetti squash roasting the oven (cut side was down while it was in there.) My limes were pretty hard, so I zested them, cut them in half and the put them in the oven with the squash for the last five minutes. It makes them easier to squeeze. You can use the microwave for this as well, but I’m not a fan. (Limes in the oven smell Divine!)

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See how you can tell that the little spaghetti-like strands are loose and ready to be scraped out? That’s how you know it’s ready.  That and the fact that the shell is now paper thin and easily gives when you squeeze it.

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Once you’ve scraped the squash goodies into the pan with the vegetables, it’s just a matter of heating it all up together and seasoning.

Poof. You’re done. Call the news crews because this is delicious!

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I really did like this dish a lot and the best part was the leftovers! In the morning I just cracked some eggs and did a scramble. I added more cilantro and some leftover asparagus tips, (and I made some cheese bowls, too.)

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Ingredients:
1 small spaghetti squash, cut in half & seeded
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Butter-more if needed. (REAL FULL-FAT BUTTER, PEOPLE!)
½ Red bell pepper, diced
½ Orange bell pepper, diced
2 Jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, diced
1 small red onion thinly sliced
½ yellow onion thinly sliced
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
1 bunch of cilantro finely chopped
3 Tbsp. Fresh chopped dill (optional)
1 Tea. Red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, & coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile sauté the vegetables in 2 Tbsp. butter & 2 Tbsp. olive oil until tender. (Don’t forget to season them with salt & pepper. I also added red pepper flakes, but this is optional.) Turn off the heat & set aside until the squash is ready.

Once the squash is tender, rake the flesh with a fork into the skillet with the vegetables and begin to fold everything together. Turn the heat back on to medium-low. Add the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and dill and stir until combined and warmed through. (I added more butter to mine at this point.)

Enjoy.

BONUS: Here is another spaghetti squash recipe I actually like: Stuff Your Face with This! Spaghetti Squash