Tag Archives: vegetarian

Spring Is In The Details

Cave spring watercress This is the cave spring that feeds the little creek that runs in front of our home.  The cave is located on our neighbor’s property.  Lucky for us she doesn’t mind us walking down her lane and across her front yard so that we can view this lovely spring.  During the winter everything surrounding the water turns a dullish gray-brown. The leaves pile up and freeze. The flowers along the creek lose their blooms and die.  It is winter after all.

Cave Spring 2014Yet, before the daffodils bloom, before the grass turns green, and before the spring wildflowers pop up everywhere this beautiful little creek glows green with watercress. Wikipedia tells me that watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans.

If I were Martha Stewart I would be making watercress salad. When my Chief Culinary Consultant first saw the watercress in our creek he said “you should make watercress salad.”  Being the ever dutiful wife, I said, “Okay.”  But before I ventured out to gather the leafy green water-laden vegetable I Googled it.  I quickly found that the USDA says it should not be eaten if there is any chance an animal or animals have access to the water.  Well, of course they do! The article I read went on to mention contamination and all that.

Our friend Tom, who has lived in these parts all his life (and is a medical doctor) says that’s crazy. He says “just wash it well and enjoy it!”  Dutiful wife or not I have chosen not to poison  treat my family to watercress salad — until now.

A recent early spring walk up to the cave spring unveiled this stunning leafy watercress sitting right at the cave’s opening in flowing fresh water.  Soon I will venture down the creek embankment and harvest some fresh watercress.

Have you ever eaten watercress salad? How was it?

Martha Stewart salad watercressThis is a picture taken by Jose’ Manuel Picayo Rivera for Martha Stewart. It is a Roasted Sweet Potato Watercress Salad.  Looks good doesn’t it?

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!   Psalm 34:8

Psalm 34:8 is one of my favorite Bible verses and it seems so fitting for this first day of April.  Have a blessed day and Happy Spring!


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.





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...