Tag Archives: vegetarian

Cucumber and Onion Salad

marinated cucumbers

As I sit with my computer on my lap, poised ready to write about cucumber and onion salad, I am brain-dead.  Truth is, I am posting this recipe for myself.  Yep, it is true. Selfishly, I am thinking of all the time I spend looking for the recipe note card, sorting through recipe files on my computer and yet trying to remember how much sugar to how much vinegar.  It should be so easy, yet I can’t ever remember.

Dish of Cucumbers

Growing vegetables can be such a funny and unpredictable activity.  Last year our cucumber plants came down with a fungus and had to be destroyed.  No cucumbers for us.  This year — we have 4 plants and they are producing at maximum capacity.  Go figure.

marinated cucs

I will keep cucumber and onion salad in my refrigerator and on our dinner table for the next month.  When the tomatoes are ripe I will toss a few of those in.  Come middle of August I won’t want to touch another cucumber until Christmas.  True story.  Meantime, I highly recommend you get some fresh cucumbers from the garden — yours, your neighbors, the farmers — wherever you can.  Make a cucumber and onion salad.  Enjoy!

Happy Summertime!

P.S.  And when you can’t find the recipe next year, it will be right here! :)

Cucumber and Onion Salad
The every summer freshest-favorite salad ... cucumbers, onion, sweet and tangy all at once.
  • 2 to 3 cucumbers
  • 1 medium white onion
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • *Optional: 1 to 2 tomatoes cut in quarters
  1. You will need a 2 quart jar with lid or other 2 quart container.
  2. Cut the ends off the cucumbers and peel along the long edge in 3-4 strips to leave a sort of stripped cucumber.
  3. Slice the cucumber in thin rounds.
  4. Peel and slice the onion in thin slices and separate.
  5. Put the cucumber and onion alternately in your jar/container. *Optional: add tomato quarters
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover your jar/container tightly and gently turn so the ingredients are mixed together.
  7. Refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

Broccoli au Gratin

broccoli au gratin spoonful

After a week of recipes like Tuesdays With Dorie Croissants and the Pioneer Women’s Cinnamon Rolls I knew I better end on a healthy note or my faithful reader-son Cory, will definitely disown me!  Enter a lovely bag of fresh broccoli.  I love broccoli.  I think it just may be my favorite vegetable, as an adult.  As a child the only vegetable I would eat was green beans.  But when I was about 45 I grew up and started eating other vegetables.  Today my favorite — broccoli!

steamed broccoli

In the culinary arts, the term au gratin refers to a dish that is baked with a topping of seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese. The au gratin topping should be golden brown, which can be achieved by baking or by placing the dish under a broiler.  Au gratin — a perfect way to serve broccoli!!  Broccoli is a delicious side dish to so many meats and main dishes.  I started this colorful gratin by steaming the broccoli in the microwave. I like baking in a cast iron skillet but you can also use your favorite baking dish or casserole dish.

broccoli with cheese

While the broccoli is steaming in the microwave I made a cheesy white sauce, reserving a bit of the cheese to sprinkle on the hot broccoli.

sauce over broccoli

The cheesy white sauce is poured over the broccoli.

broc au gratin topping

I adore Panko bread crumbs so I used a handful to make up the crunchy topping.  The gratin is baked until lightly browned and bubbly.

broccoli au gratin skilletful
The nice part about using a cast iron skillet is it makes a fun serving dish as well.  From the oven to the table.

broccoli au gratin spoonful

I adapted this recipe from Food Network Kitchens.  It is a keeper for me.  It can easily be made and on the table in less than an hour while finishing up any main dish.

broccoli au gratin single cornbread

We like our broccoli tender-crisp and not mushy.  This recipe is easy to make without over-baking the broccoli.

What is your favorite broccoli recipe?  Please do-tell, I am always looking for tried and true recipes for this yummy vegetable!

~Blessings, Catherine

Broccoli au Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Broccoli -- cheese -- Panko -- you will love this au gratin!
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds broccoli (about 4 heads), cut into small florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup grated sharp and colby cheese, divided in half
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Spray canola oil in a 9" round cast iron skillet or 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the milk, sharp cheddar cheese and salt and bring to a low simmer while whisking constantly. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the white sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place the broccoli in a glass microwaveable dish and add ¼ cup water. Cover with microwaveable lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 3 minutes. Drain off water.
  4. Put the steamed broccoli in the prepared dish, sprinkle with the ½ cup sharp and colby cheese. Pour on the sauce. Sprinkle with remaining sharp and colby mixture.
  5. Cover the gratin with the Panko bread crumbs. Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens.

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Au Gratin

sprous au gratin spoonedLast fall The Brown Eyed Baker shared a recipe for Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Gratin.  I liked the look of the recipe and filed it on my to-do list.  All I can say is this — oh my gosh! My sous-chef dish-washing mom does not eat Brussels sprouts – until now. Once I fixed this recipe mom was all in!

brussel sproutsI started out with these lovely little b. sprouts.  Since I thought only two of us would be eating this side dish I made only half a recipe.  Rookie mistake. :( Once the b. sprouts are cleaned they are tossed together with cooked bacon, melted butter, salt and pepper.  The original recipe calls for adding uncooked bacon and letting it cook during roasting.  I prefer to cook the bacon first — you decide.

brussels augratin bacon The sprouts are arranged in a single layer in a baking dish and baked for 25 minutes.  During the baking the b. sprouts roast and turn a wonderful toasty brown color.  Meanwhile a luscious topping of Panko bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, butter, salt and pepper is mixed together.

Sprouts gratin cheeseAfter the first baking, Half  & Half  is poured over all the sprouts and the topping is sprinkled evenly over the sprouts. A second baking finishes the dish when the half & half gets all bubbly and the topping is golden.  The fragrance in the house will call everyone to the table! The recipe calls for heavy cream but I lightened it up with Half & Half and it turned out beautifully.  Healthified?  Hmmm, I believe I just healthified this recipe! :)
baked au gratin sproutsI’ve already made this again and this time I made the full recipe! Smart. :)

Happy Cooking,

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Au Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Roasted, creamy, crunchy and complete with bacon and Panko crumbs. You will never serve Brussels sprouts simply steamed again!
Serves: 8
For the Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 6 ounces bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Half & Half
For the Topping
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. with rack in middle position.
  2. Remove outer leaf layers of the Brussels sprouts, slice off the stem ends. Wash and set aside to drain.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the Brussels sprouts, cooked bacon, melted butter, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a 9" x 13" baking dish sprayed with canola oil (or your favorite spray.) Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toss together all of the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl; set aside.
  5. Remove baking dish from the oven and pour the Half & Half over top of the Brussels sprouts; use a spoon to toss together, ensuring all of the sprouts are coated in the cream. Arrange them again in a single layer in the pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the Brussels Sprouts. Return to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the cream is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker.





Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.   Ecclesiastes 3:1  (KJV)

Before you claim you don’t like sweet potatoes let me confess I use to despise anything that even looked like sweet potato.  Annually mom would open up the tin can of sweet potatoes, add in her magic ingredients, top with marshmallows and bake.  EVERYONE waited for the baked sweet potatoes to be set on the holiday table.  Everyone but me.  That was then, this is now.
My sous-chef dish-washing mom is the first to agree that starting with a fresh whole sweet potato is the only way to go. Recently we visited a sweet potato farm and bought several boxes full of sweet potatoes right out of the field!  We eat baked sweet potatoes nearly every week with the added benefit that they are actually quite healthy. When writing this blog post I went looking for the fried sweet potato recipe I shared with you earlier. Problem is … I got this photo ready and then didn’t share the recipe!
The fresh sweet potatoes are easy to bake (about an hour at 375 degrees F.) or equally delicious when fried.  I like to slice the potatoes 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick and slow fry them in a combination of butter and olive oil.  When the potatoes are nearly done I sprinkle a little brown sugar over them and give them a toss.  Another 5 minutes cooking and the brown sugar becomes caramelized. I serve them right out of the skillet and that way they stay warm done to the very last one. Betcha can’t eat just one!

VIEW AND PRINT from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box.

My love of sweet potatoes began in 2004 when I moved to Tennessee.  It seems that no matter where we eat, the true southern meal includes some version of Sweet Potato Casserole.  One bite of the baked whipped potatoes mixed with real butter and topped with brown sugar and pecans and I was all in!  No marshmallow top for me — give me the real stuff — butter – brown sugar — pecans oh yum!

My sister-in-law, Liz, stopped by this week and I was anxious to share some of our newly dug sweet potatoes.  She said her husband had recently been looking at a recipe combining sweet potatoes, apples and nuts.  We all thought that combination sounded great.  That very evening my sous-chef dish-washing and sometimes cook mom made up a big ‘ol pan a fried sweet potatoes to go along with our favorite meatloaf.  At this point I had visions of sweet potatoes and apples dancing in my head.  She made plenty of fried potatoes and so I took the leftovers and made this sweet potato and apple casserole. This casserole is a lighter version of my regular Sweet Potato Casserole.  Because my potatoes were already cooked  it was so fast and easy.  About 10 minutes from beginning to in-the-oven.  Thirty minutes later I delighted the Chief and Mom with flavors of fall. The flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter topping turned this side dish into an almost dessert … almost.
You can use any variety of apples, whatever you have on hand. I used 2 small Winesap and 1 1/2 Golden Delicious.  They were small apples, but oh so tasty!

View and PRINT recipe from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box.

Happy Cooking and Have a Blessed Weekend!
~ Catherine

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