Meatless Monday Treat

It was a rough weekend.

First we had a two day basketball tournament that started early both days, meaning no sleeping in for me, and then we had a party we needed to go to Saturday night that turned into the proverbial shit show:

lamborghini_aventador_lp_720_yellow-800x600While standing around watching the rest of the party goers drinking themselves into oblivion and admiring the host’s new bright yellow half million dollar Lamborghini Aventador, the host, who’s a very tall, very large man, lost his tenuous hold on his balance and began sliding down the rear fender with only me (I’m not a big girl) between him and the hard concrete floor & wall.  I did my best to break his fall without breaking myself but he ended up landing on me in a very awkward position and, in the fiasco of the fall, I threw my red wine all over the back end of his gorgeous car.  In my defense, I kept him from hitting his head on the floor or the wall so there was that…LOL

Suffice it to say that I was in some pain and thus, in no mood to make dinner Sunday night.  I was very glad to remember that we had a leftover pizza in the refrigerator to reheat.  Tonight, due to the second day of pain being even worse, from my neck all the way down my right side, I wasn’t anxious to roll out a gourmet dinner either.  Thank God my husband is pretty easy to feed.

shishito1I can usually dress up a grilled cheese sandwich in a way to satisfy him and tonight was no different.  Real butter, a loaf of sourdough, some bacon that was already cooked & chilling in the meat drawer combined with some pepper jack cheese and we had a winner.  I didn’t want to just let him eat the Cheetos he favors with it, and he didn’t want any of the leftover coleslaw from the other night, so I threw together another quick side he loves:

Blistered Shishito Peppers

  1. Heat 1 TBLS olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add 1 pkg of fresh Shishito peppers to the hot oil and cook, tossing them every minute or so, for 5 minutes or until the skins are blackened and blistered.
  3. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

shishito2Trader Joe’s sells Shishito peppers pre-bagged, you can get them at your local Asian grocery store (they are beloved in Japan), or your grocery store may have them in your produce section.

Shishito peppers are generally mild, but it seems like one in every batch will light you up! 😉

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Roasted Garlic Cheesy Cauliflower

roastedgarliccheesycauliflowerI bought a couple of heads of cauliflower at the farmer’s market, but wasn’t excited to serve it steamed with cheese, as make-believe rice, wannabe mashed potatoes, or even spiced up and roasted whole.

A trip to Trader Joe’s later, I had some inspiration for a main dish casserole I could serve with a salad.  Later this week it will be a great side dish for smoked sausage or, if I’m feeling inspired, Roasted Frenched Pork Chops.

If you don’t eat, or don’t like pork products, you can easily substitute shredded chicken (grocery store rotisserie or home prepared) for the ham and either leave the bacon out or substitute turkey bacon.  Another option is to cut leftover steak or prime rib into cubes as a substitute for the ham and leave in the bacon.  If you are vegetarian you can leave the meat out completely and add more bell pepper (red, yellow, orange or green). It’s a recipe that’s easy to get creative with.

Roasted Garlic Cheesy Cauliflower

  • 2 Heads of Cauliflower
  • 2 Cups Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Cups Shredded Aged Gouda (or Trader Joe’s Gouda/Parmesan Blend) Cheese
  • 4 TBLS Butter
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper Diced
  • 3 Chopped Green Onions
  • 6 Slices Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Cups Diced Cooked Ham
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Roasted
  • 3 Shallots, Roasted
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • About 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBLS Gluten Free Flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish and set aside.

roastedgarlicPeel away the papery skin and cut off the top of the garlic clove.  Place inside a square of foil, drizzle with olive oil, close up the foil package, and place in a shallow pan in the oven.  Do the same for the shallots.  Bake 30-40 minutes and remove from oven.  Set aside for a few minutes then open up foil pouch to let cool.

Break apart cauliflower heads, discard the stem and steam in a steamer in a large pot until tender but not mushy (about 20 minutes per head – you may have to do it in 2 batches).  Transfer cauliflower to Vitamix Container or Food Processor and pulse until florets break apart but do not pulverize.  Remove the cauliflower and put into a large mixing bowl.  Add diced bell pepper, ham, half of the chopped green onions, and half of the crumbled bacon.  Toss to combine.

In heavy saucepan squeeze the roasted garlic and shallots out of their skins and add 3 TBLS butter.  Cook over medium heat until butter melts.  Using a fork or an immersion blender stir/blend until the garlic and shallots are crushed and well combined.  Add a generous amount of pepper, the cream (or 1/2 & 1/2) and bring just to a boil.  Combine the last 1 TBLS of butter (melted) with 2 TBLS of the Gluten Free flour (all purpose if GF isn’t a concern for you) and blend or whisk into the mixture in the pan until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add the cream cheese then 1 Cup of the pepper jack and 1 Cup of the gouda, stirring constantly until melted.  It may not be a flowing sauce, but resemble a big melted blob – that’s ok.  Remove from heat and pour into the cauliflower mixture in a large bowl.  Use a large rubber spatula to stir together until well mixed.

Spread into prepared 9 x 13 pan, sprinkle remaining bacon, green onion and cheeses over the top, cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is brown and bubbly.  Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes. I serve with a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot for those who like more spice.

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