Enchanting Recipes & Everyday Life In General

Category Archives: vegetables

I just have a minute, so I’ll share a quick side dish with you.

Cauliflower Gratin was something I grew up eating. I loveeee cauliflower, and this is one of my favorite dishes. It’s pure melt-in-your-mouth cheesy goodness. It’s sort of like au gratin potatoes, except cauliflower.

Credit of this recipe goes to mi Madre. I know I poked fun of her pork steaks, but this cancels that out…Right?

Yum yum.

Cauliflower Gratin


What you’ll need:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz swiss cheese

First, trim the cauliflower into bite sized pieces.


In a saucepan, melt butter on medium-high heat.


Add the flour to the melted butter, and whisk until combined.


It will be kind of lumpy. This is called a roux–it’s a thickener. You can add a roux to any sauce to thicken it.

Side Topic: Roux
To make a thickened sauce from a roux, melt the butter, then add the flour, then the liquid. It’s always equal parts butter to flour (1 tablespoon of butter–1 tablespoon of flour.)

If you’re thickening an already made sauce (or soup), melt the butter and add the flour. Then add some (a cup at a time) of the already made sauce (or soup) liquid to the roux. Whisk it until liquidy and smooth (not lumpy). When the roux is thick, but smooth, then add it to the sauce (or soup). Then, bring it to a boil. It thickens at a boil–so don’t forget this step.

I’ll have more on this in a later post, I promise. Maybe I’ll do a How To post.

End Side Topic.

Slowly, SLOWLY, add the milk–stirring to incorporate. I cannot emphasize slowly enough, this prevents lumps.


See. Thick. Lump Free. Looks like gravy.
Add your salt and pepper, and garlic powder.


You just made what our grandma’s call a “white sauce”.

Pour this white sauce over the cauliflower in a 9×9 baking dish. Mix it in and make sure the cauliflower is saturated with sauce.


Then, grate your cheese.


My favorite step, clearly.


Cover the cauliflower with the cheeeeeeeese.


Stick it in the oven at 350˚ F for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and the cauliflower is tender.

See. Yum.


Serve it with your favorite meal to make it even more delicious.


The Boo and I have been on a mission lately to try to eat a little healthier. We’ve been eating at home a lot more, and aside from buying two 5-pound bags of Sour Patch Kids from Target, (on clearance for $2.79, each!) we’ve been doing decently.


Do you have foods that you crave, but don’t really like?
I do.

I crraaaaveee mozzarella sticks and their melty, cheesy, fried goodness. I order them a lot. I don’t actually like them. I never do. I’m always disappointed when I order them. I order them, knowing I will be disappointed with them. I can’t help it, I crave them.
I guess I crave the idea of them.

Eggplant is the same way for me.
They are so cool, eggplants. These big, squishy-ish, purple squash-like things. They feel hollow. How could you not love them?
I guess I don’t. I crave the idea of them, though.
I drive around town, going to [literally] five different grocery stores looking for them.
I buy them, and make a simple, beautiful dish.
And hate it.
Every. Single. Bite.

I’m not selling you on this meal, am I? The Boo liked it though, I promise. He loved it, in fact.

If you like eggplant, you’ll like this dish.
If you like eggplant parmesan, you’ll like this dish.
If you like a combination of eggplant, cheese, and tomatoes, you’ll really like this dish.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

adapted from here.

What You Will Need:
1 eggplant
olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 14.5 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes w/ garlic, undrained
3 tablespoons flour
2 egg whites
1 cup breadcrumbs
6 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
6 large, fresh basil leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried basil)
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon each garlic powder, dried oregano, dried parsley, & dried thyme

This Is How It’s Done:

Friends, meet the newest cast member of Veggie Tales

*Please disregard my quick, horrible Photoshop skills (or lack thereof)
Tom, the Eggplant.
I just realized that this is going to get incredibly morbid, incredibly quickly. 
The first step is to cut Tom the eggplant into 1/2 inch wide slices, then pour salt in his wounds coat the slices liberally with salt. Put them in a strainer (in the sink, or in another bowl/on a plate) and let them sit for 30-ish minutes.
The salt will draw all the moisture from the slices so they won’t get soggy later when they are baked. 

While the eggplant is dehydrating, you can get started on the sauce…

…And I can show you my new pot.

Isn’t she pretty? She looks really pretty on my stove.
(She looks prettier with her top on, but I forgot to get to that. I will, eventually. Pinky promise.)

That’s where she lives. On my stove…whether I’m using her or not. 
The Boo got her for me as a graduation present. 
Did I mention I finished school? I did. I’m done. Finished. Finito. 
Sorry, sorry…Back to this meal…
Heat a pot on medium high heat.
Once the pot is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the oil is hot, this only takes a few seconds, add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. 
Stir them for about 10 seconds.
Don’t let them burn.
They will burn.
Add the finely chopped onion.
Saute the onion until softened, 5-10 minutes.
Add the 2 cans of tomatoes.
Don’t drain them.
(This is what the can looks like–so you can find it easier.)
Add in the garlic powder, and herbs here.
If you like things really flavorful, you can add more.

I did.

Like double-more.
I also added dried basil (2 tablespoons) here, because I didn’t have any fresh basil leaves. 
Just don’t add any salt yet. We’ll add that later. If you add it too early it will become too salty because the liquid will evaporate and the flavor will be more concentrated. 
Let the tomatoes stew until the liquid has evaporated. This will take about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.
Next, I sliced up the fresh mozzarella.
Then, I set up my breading station.
The standard breading procedure is dry, wet, dry.
Remember that. Dry. Wet. Dry.
In this case its flour (dry), egg whites (wet), bread crumbs (dry).
A note about breadcrumbs. I buy unseasoned, that way I can season them myself to whatever I like. I like to control my flavors. 
So, if you’re also using unseasoned breadcrumbs, now is the time to add seasonings.
I added salt (1 teaspoon), pepper (1/2 teaspoon), dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano, and dried parsley (1/4 teaspoon of each). 
Then I added about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.

And mixed everything in really well.
By this time, the eggplant slices have been draining for about a half hour.
Rinse them off really well with water.
Then pat them dry with paper towel.
Now, we bread them, using the standard breading procedure.
How’s that go again?
Dry. Wet. Dry.

Coat them in flour.


Then egg.
Then breadcrumbs.
Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil.
Bake them 10 minutes, flip them, and bake another 10 minutes.
When they are done, they wont look too much different than when you put them in. They wont really be browned, just a little less dense.
Taste your tomato mixture–add salt if needed.
Layer tomato sauce on half of the eggplant slices. 

Top with mozzarella.


The add a basil leaf. Grated parmesan. And top it with an eggplant hat.

Put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Then serve it immediately.
*I tossed the remaining tomato sauce with some pasta and served it with the eggplant.

Looks Yum, right?
OH! And it’s healthy, too. Somewhere around 300 calories.
…I’m craving eggplant again….Uh-oh.

Well, I’ve done my shopping (thanks to coupons and bargains, I managed to get all this food for about $60) and now I will share with you what we’re having for dinner this week (or 2 weeks, if I can stretch it) in the Yerrick household.

In the month of August we spent nearly $450 on eating out. FOUR HUNDRED & FIFTY DOLLARS! There are only TWO of us. That’s a LOT of money.

I know what you’re thinking…Aren’t you in culinary school? Aren’t you supposed to cook?

I do! I do cook! I cook all day at school…then I cook all night at work. The last thing I want to do when I get home is cook some more. But I’m going to do it. I will, and Paul has agreed to help me. The Yerrick’s are eating in. No more dining out…Okay, not no more, but less. Far less. About $400 dollars less.

I love polenta. Have you had it? Have you heard of it? It’s delicious. What is it? It’s basically just boiled cornmeal. Gross, right? Nope. It really is scrumptious. It’s scrumptious when you add loads of parmesan cheese and butter, and salt (3 of my favorite foods!). It has a wonderful smooth and creamy texture, and it’s super rich and satisfying. It’s kind of like mashed potatoes, but, dare I say…better. And a lot simpler.

Well, I’ve been craving it lately…and I had all the ingredients, so I made it last night. And then I ate it. Sooo, I decided to make it again tonight, and tonight I made it with sausage ragout (rag-goo). Don’t be afraid, ragout sounds fancy but it’s basically just a hearty stew (or sauce, in this case) with vegetables and seasonings. Kind of like Ragu spaghetti sauce….Hmm, I wonder where they came up with their name.

Anyways, I ate polenta again. But this time, I took some pictures to share with you. Without further adieu, I present:

Polenta Cakes with Sausage Ragout

For the polenta you will need:

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (not the quick kind)
4 cups water
1 teapoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 grated parmesan cheese

(you’re going to have it grate it yourself, the stuff in a jar just wont work.)
Firstly, bring the water, along with the salt and pepper, to a boil in a medium saucepan. 
Once the water is boiling, slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly. Don’t add more cornmeal until the stuff already in the pan is mixed in, this will prevent lumps. You don’t want lumps. It’s not like lumpy potatoes that are good. In polenta, lumps = gross.

When all the cornmeal is added, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until thickened. Make sure you keep an eye on it and stir it about every minute or so. It should look about like this:

Once it looks like that, stir in the parmesan cheese and butter until both are melted.

Now, you could eat it just like this. Straight from the pot to the table. It’s scrumptious this way, this is the way I ate it last night. But tonight, I did something a little bit different.

Pour the polenta into a 9×9 pan, and put it in the refrigerator. Ideally, you should let it cool a bit before refrigerating, but if you’re hungry like I was, you’re going to put it in right away.

While the polenta is cooling, you can make the ragout. For the ragout you will need:

1 small onion, chopped.
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
6 mushrooms, halved then sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb italian sausage
2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a large skillet, brown the sausage. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and italian seasoning.

Add the onions, wait one minute, then add the red pepper. Wait another minute, then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. Once the vegetables are tender, add the spaghetti sauce. Reduce heat to low, and set aside so the flavors mingle.

The polenta should be cold and firm now, so pull it and slice it into 9 or 16 slices, depending on your preference.

Heat a small skillet until hot hot hot. Add a drop of olive oil (or butter), then add your polenta squares. Saute them until both sides are golden brown and crispy.

Remove them onto a plate with paper towel (to absorb the oil, of course.)

Serve the polenta squares on a plate with the sausage ragout spooned over them. Garnish them with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

I promise you, you cannot go wrong with this dinner. Paul has had 3 1/2 servings today, he just can’t get enough.

Now, we’re off to try to make our own ice cream–I’ll let you know how that goes!