Cauliflower-Broccoli Au Gratin

broccoli and cheese casserole

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole topped and baked

Here’s a perfect side dish that makes you forget you are not having some form of starch. It’s rich and creamy and so delicious. There definitely will not be any leftovers!!!

Prepare a pot of water with 2″ of water and bring to a boil.

add broccoli florets…
1 medium head of broccoli cut into florets
steam for 4 or 5 minutes or just until tender, remove and cool
add cauliflower florets…
1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
steam for 5-7 minutes or just until tender, remove and cool.

Set aside broccoli and cauliflower while you prepare the cheese sauce.

Cheese Sauce:

In a 5 qt sauce pot on medium high heat
melt 4 Tbsp butter
add 4 tbsp of flour
stir together
add: 3 cups of warmed milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
simmer on low stirring constantly for about 8 minutes
lower heat to low
add 10-12 slices of american cheese (do not use cheddar)
stir until fully incorporated into a smooth creamy sauce. Sauce should be a pourable thick consistency. If your sauce gets too thick just add a little milk, if not thick enough add more cheese.

broccol and cheese casserole







In a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, place all of the cooled broccoli and cauliflower, pour the cheese sauce over…

2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
mix completely and sprinkle evenly over top of veggies.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes
let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
broccoli and cheese casserole 2

Cheesy Au-Gratin Potatoes

Au-Gratin fishedThis is a side dish that everyone loves! It might seem intimidating but I’m here to tell you, You Can Do It!
The hardest part is making a white sauce, and making a white sauce is really easy. Some people make the white sauce into a cheese sauce. I have made it this way before. However, I prefer to make it this way for a number of reasons. A white sauce also known as a Bechamel, a béchamel can be altered in many ways. One of my favs is adding lemon, capers and fresh dill for the topping on a broiled fish. Or the addition of Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard is a wonderful topping for chicken cutlets. So, if I have any leftover, it could be great for another meal this week. A béchamel is the base white sauce that is the starting point for many sauces. Wonderful additions to this sauce create great meals. The other thing to remember, is that there are no rules to this dish. It’s kind of like lasagna made with potatoes. You can add things between the layers that you love. One nice addition is caramelized onions. Another is Bacon or Jalapeños, or sautéed mushrooms. The cheese is also up to you, but I will say that I like to clean up my refrigerator on dishes like this. My go to cheeses are cheddar and american because they melt smoothly and creamy. I know american cheese isn’t really cheese but I love it. You are the boss on this dish, make it however you want to. This one is the traditional version for our Easter dinner.


White Sauce
Make a Roux:
au gratin-roux







6 TB butter melted in a 4 qt sauce pan on med heat
6 Tb. Flour
stir together and cook for a minute until bubbling.
add 4 cups of warmed milk ( almond milk works fine)
whisk until beginning to thicken
add 1 pinch of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg
cook over low heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
turn off heat and set aside.

Prep the rest of the dish….
6 medium sized Organic Potatoes sliced in 1/8th of an inch slices
12 oz or (1 1/2 cups) of shredded Cheddar cheese
9 slices of american cheese
salt and pepper
white sauce

13×9 inch pan
spray the bottom and sides with cooking spray
au-gratin-step 1







place a layer of potato slices
sprinkle with salt and pepper







break 3 slices of american cheese in half and space them evenly over the potatoes
au-gratin-step 3







sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese over the american cheese
drizzle about 1 cup of white sauce over cheeses
au-gratin step 6







repeat 2 more times.

bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Let set for 15 minutes.
Au-Gratin fished








Braised Caramelized Cabbage

briased caramelized cabbageThere are side dishes and then there are side dishes. I just love cabbage as a side. I usually braise red cabbage but you can use whichever you have on hand. There are two ways I like to braise it, one with just butter, olive oil and garlic and secondly with the addition of cream. Typically, I serve cabbage with Pork, but it really doesn’t matter. This cabbage was leftover from a batch of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. I only had enough filling for about 3/4 of my cabbage, I had the center of the cabbage left so I used it up. I’m always so proud of myself when I do not waste something. This time I did not add onions to the cabbage, but I do think it would be good. I also always enjoy adding spinach to the mix at the end. Very healthy side dish too.

Braised Cabbage

1 small cabbage sliced into 1/4″ strips
1/2 stick butter
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
1 c. chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley
opt: crushed red pepper flakes

Heat a skillet to med high heat.
add: butter and oil
add: Cabbage
stir fry for approx 5 minutes
to caramelize, let the cabbage sit in the pan, without moving it around. when it begins to brown up turn over and brown up more. When you are happy with the color, lower to medium heat. Stir in garlic and begin adding the chicken stock about a 1/4 cup at a time. Cover and let steam for 2-3 minutes. Continue adding the stock and covering until the cabbage is tender and fully cooked. Now taste it and add salt and pepper and crushed red pepper. Toss in parsley. Serve.

Potato and Egg Salad

egg and potato saladI just love potato salad! It’s a comfort food in my mind. I find myself eating it when it’s in my fridge every time I am hungry, no matter what time of day it is. This recipe came from my mother-in-law, Anne. I of course, added a few ingredients and changed it up a bit. Nevertheless,  It’s really good. I have a time-saver for anyone who adds egg to their potato salad. I boil the eggs in the same pot as my potatoes for the same amount of time, and it works perfectly. I immediately pull the eggs out and drop them in some cold water after cracking all around the shell of the eggs. This lets the cold water seep in under the shell and makes peeling the eggs a snap. Use any kind of potato you like.

Potato Salad

5 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
6 eggs in the shell
Boil the potatoes and eggs together for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender
Drain the potatoes and let cool. Place the hard boiled eggs in a bowl of cold water. When they are able to be handled, tap them on the counter and crack all around the egg, place back in bowl.

In a large bowl…
add: cooled potatoes
add: peeled and chopped eggs
1 cup Diced bread and butter pickles, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup of juice from pickles
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 – 1 cup mayonnaise, put as much as you like. (1/2 miracle whip and 1/2 Mayonnaise are really good too)
1 tbsp. dijon mustard

Mix and refrigerate for at least an hour or two until cold. After prepared taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed!

TJ’s Bleu Cheese Dressing

salad 1The best Bleu cheese dressing you will ever have, (in my opinion). I always double the Bleu cheese crumbles at home because we like it extra chunky. The Bleu cheese dressing was served with buffalo tenders and wings. However, our house salad dressing was zesty Italian. We always made the large batches of zesty Italian dressing at the restaurant, we used straight red wine vinegar and omitted the white vinegar. They sell the small packages at the grocery store and you can mix it up at home. This Bleu cheese dressing on a salad along with zesty Italian dressing is unreal. That’s all we eat in our home. Try it-you will love it.

Makes 2.5 cups of dressing.

16 oz. mayo
5 oz. Bleu cheese crumble
5 oz. sour cream
1/4 c. White vinegar

Mix and let sit at least an hour to absorb the flavors.

Teriyaki Sauce

IMG_0358Teriyaki Sauce is a Staple. It can be kept in your fridge for a long time. The only thing that will happen is the sugars and the spices will settle, so it will need to be stirred every single time you use it.  I can come up with a recipe for you, any size, to accommodate however many people you are serving. Or, you can mix up a batch and keep it in your fridge for on going use. Its equal parts of three ingredients and then spices. So depending on how much you need, it can be 1/4 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/4 cup or 1 cup, 1 cup, 1 cup.The sauce is the one we used to toss our Teriyaki Chicken wings in. It’s the sauce we used to make our stir frys with. It is really able to be used in many different ways. You can marinate chicken or beef in it and then grill. You can baste salmon with it while it’s cooking. The thing about this sauce thats great, is that it can be thickened into a glaze. So, if you want grilled marinated chicken or grilled Salmon. You can finish it with a sauce that sticks and glistens on your entree. It will taste and look very appetizing. This sauce also works very well with the addition of chunky Peanut butter and heavy cream and then thickened. Just a note about Soy sauce, I do not like the really black kind(Lachoy)for this recipe, it is really salty and too dark in color. The fresh brewed by kikkoman is not as salty and has a much milder flavor. You could use low sodium too.

Teriyaki Sauce

In a large container
1 c. white wine or white zinfandel
1 c. Kikkoman brewed Soy Sauce (be sure NOT to use Kikkoman Teriyaki sauce, that is already mixed with sugar and seasoned)
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Use a whisk and mix well. Mix well before scooping each time. This would be added at the very end when making a stir fry and thickened to a glaze.

Teriyaki Glaze
grab a small fry pan or pot.
ladle in as much as you want to thicken. Bring it to a simmer.
In a seperate bowl, mix up some cornstarch and water.
Add one teaspoon of cornstarch at a time and whisk until it reaches the desired consistency.

I just made the thickened version.
1 cup of teriyaki sauce (cold)
1 tbsp cornstarch
Mix together and pour into a sauce pan, bring to a boil and thicken. Set aside for your wings or whatever you want to slather it onto.

Sea Salt and Pepper Slab Fries

These are so good and simple to make. They are a staple for our weekly big breakfast. They are good for serving in place of french fries, the best part is they are baked not fried. Use them as a side dish with any meal. They are so easy, only 4 ingredients and they can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
slab friessliders
Sea Salt and Pepper Slab Fries

400 degrees  20 minutes

Potatoes sliced 1/4 ” thick
olive oil

On a sheet pan, drizzle olive oil and spread over the whole pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.(yes you are seasoning the pan) Lay the sliced potatoes on to the pan, now brush the tops of every slice with olive oil. Season the top side of the potatoes with salt and pepper. Thats it, now bake on 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until you are satisfied with the color and crispness. Sometimes I leave out the salt and pepper on top, and just before they are done, I sprinkle cheese and bacon on them and bake until melted and bubbly. Serve with sour cream.