Green Apple and White Cheddar Gratin ~ The Lighter Flare

I love french inspired food, using the familiar and making it your own.  The beauty of living in the melted pot, is we get to learn from each other and infuse our cultures. The brilliance of doing this,  we create new experiences and new traditions for our families.

This french inspired gratin dish is for my vegetarians out there. You can easy make it vegan, by using olive oil, non dairy cream and vegan meltable cheese.

My memories of this dish, is my mom’s super cheesy version of her own take of potato gratin.  It almost reminded me of her macaroni and cheese, It was one of my favorite dishes. She would make it in the Fall, as soon as the weather got a little nippy. I thought about her today and with the weather changing, I decided to make a gratin in honor of her. However, I like to take dishes that are familiar and put my own signature on them. I made mines with crispy green apples, onions, garlic and white cheddar cheese. I seasoned the apples with nutmeg, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper. I think my southern mama, would have approved and told me, I should have went heavier on the cinnamon, the butter and of course the cream. LOL. 🙂  The recipe is a little tart, sweet and cheesy.  It is not your typical heavy, creamy potato gratin, but  I believe it will become one of your favorite alternatives. Bon a petit!

Enjoy and Set the Table with Love. 

Green Apple and White Cheddar Gratin
Green Apple and White Cheddar Gratin

Ingredients:

3 tbsp unsalted butter,  a little extra for the mini dutch oven

1/2 cup onions, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

3 med. green apples, slice with a madoline or knife, thin round slices

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

A few thyme leaves and dried fennels ( optional)

Fine sea salt and black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream, if vegan, canned coconut milk will work

1/4 cup bread crumbs, gluten free bread crumbs for those with gluten allergies

3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese

Few  fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the mini dutch oven, ramekin or small baking dish.

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent. Add green apples slices. Do not use the top or the bottom part of the apple slices, just he ones that are not covered with the peel. Add the seasonings and the fennel. Stir gently to incorporate all the flavors. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Transfer half of the mixture into the baking dish. Add half of the grated white cheddar cheese and add the rest of the mixture. Pour the cream over top. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, thyme leaves,  and cheese on top. Dot the remaining 1 tbsp butter on top.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately, add the fresh thyme leaves on top as garnish.

Vegan Spicy Tomato Basil Soup with a Vegetarian Parmesan Basil Lollipop

It’s so cold here in Georgia. I decided to make Spicy Tomato Basil Soup, but wanted it to be a vegan version. So I replaced the heavy cream with unsweetened almond milk and to thicken it I added 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds. You could soak some cashews the night before and use them as your thickening agent or even add an avocado at the end of the cooking process.  I loved the texture of the flax seed grounds. This made the soup rich, creamy and loaded with good fat and protein.

The Vegetarian Parmesan Basil Lollipops are amazing. I used Belgioioso Vegetarian Cheese. This will make a for sure party favorite hit. Get wild with this recipes add different herbs, saffron for color or even a basil glaze.

Enjoy! Remember to Set the Table with Love.

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Parmesan Basil Cheese Lollipop
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Vegan Spicy Tomato Basil Soup

Vegan Spicy Tomato Basil Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 (28oz.) can Organic Diced Tomatoes

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

3 cups Organic vegetable broth ( low sodium)

1/2 cup of sweet red wine

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste , or regular works as well

2 tablespoon shredded fresh basil, plus a few for garnish

2/3 cup ground flax seed

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sea salt to taste

my secret ingredient, freshly grated nutmeg, just a dash or two. 🙂

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened,but do not allow to brown.

2. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and garlic, then add the stock, red wine and sun-dried tomato paste, with salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper. Bring to boil, then lower the heat, half-cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the base.

3. Pour the soup into a Vitamix , Ninja or blender. Add the shredded basil, almond milk and flax seed grounds and continue to blend until the soup thickens. Remove from blender and place back into the pot on a low medium heat. Stir and add fresh grated nutmeg.  Check the consistency and add more stock if needed. Also adjust seasoning, if needed. Pour into bowls and garnish with whole basil leaves and olive oil.

Parmesan Basil Cheese Lollipop
Parmesan Basil Cheese Lollipop

Parmesan Basil Lollipop

3/4 cup Belgioioso Vegetarian Cheese, grated

12 wooden skewers or wooden popsicle sticks

12 basil leaves, roughly the same size, if possible

Directions:

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place 6 sticks on the baking sheet making sure to leave enough space between each to ensure that they don’t melt together once the cheese melts.
Place 1 tablespoon of cheese at one end of each stick, shaping into a circle.  With your fingers, spread the cheese into a 3-inch circle.
Bake for about 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for  few seconds, then add basil leaves on each lollipop. You want to do this while they are still warm so the basil can adhere to the parmesan cheese.
Let cool and remove from the baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining cheese.
Serve with soup or as an appetizer.

They will keep for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container.

Gluten free Vegetarian Cauliflower Veggie Pizza

I keep hearing my friends say they have gluten intolerance, so I wanted to share this enhanced version of my Cauliflower Veggie Pizza sticks. This recipe will make you feel like you are not missing the bread and also Cauliflower is a low carb veggie. Yay Me!!

Gluten Free Vegetarian Cauliflower Veggie Pizza Gluten Free Vegetarian Cauliflower Veggie Pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cups grated cauliflower

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cloves garlic, grated or minced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 1/2 oz white sharp cheddar, freshly grated and divided

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup for topping

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning, divided

sea salt

pepper

Ingredients:

For Sautéed Veggies

11/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup zucchini, chopped, small

1 cup yellow squash, chopped, small

1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped, small

1/4 cup grated parmesan for garnish

freshly chopped basil for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grate the cauliflower, using a cheese grater or a food processor. Put the grated cauliflower onto two pieces of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven and roast for about 7-10 minutes, spread it out so it doesn’t steam.  Add the roasted cauliflower into a large bowl.  Keep the oven on and remove all the cauliflower from the sheet and spray the sheet with the olive oil and set aside.

Add the garlic, egg, 4 oz of the cheese, 1/2 cup of the vegetarian  parmesan cheese (Belgioioso, sells a vegetarian parmesan) 1/2 teaspoon of the dried Italian herb seasoning (reserving 1/2 teaspoon for topping later), and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then spread on a sheet pan forming it into a pizza crust.

Bake until set and starting to turn golden, about 25- 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Cut the crust into sticks. Slightly separate the pieces and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning. Broil a minute or two, until the cheese is melted and golden in spots. Add sautéed veggies and more parmesan cheese if you like. Serve hot or warm.

Directions for Veggies: Add oil to a pan on medium heat and sauté the veggies until slightly tender, top on your pizza crust with garnishes.

Enjoy and Set the Table with Love!

My Favorite New Low Carb Snack ~ Vegetarian Parmesan Chips

Okay! I am on kinda of a diet!! Yes!! Don’t laugh at me, but I need to lose 6 stubborn lbs before my birthday in May. I know.  I know. Girl what are you complaining about! Hey, when you get over in your 40’s, it can be a little difficult. So I am watching my Carbs. Closer a girl get’s to 50 the Carbs are not being very nice to me. However, I love to eat potatoes and maybe it’s the Irish blood in me, but potatoes are my best friend. We have hung out during some very trying times in my life. They have come to me in many forms. They know just what a girl needs.  For example, they show up as Potato Chips, she happens to be my favorite. Also, Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Pie, Baked Cajun potatoes,etc., etc. You get the point.

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Well, after my workout I was craving something crunchy. No chips to be found in the house. The key to success, do not load your house up with foods you are trying to avoid.  So I made these vegetarian Parmesan Chips. I used an awesome cheese brand, Belgioioso Cheese. They make a vegetarian form of parmesan. Yay! Me! and 0 Carbs. Yay! Me! Again.

Okay here’s the recipe. Enjoy. I paired this snack with an apple and drizzle of honey. But if you are doing 0 carbs just stick to the chips. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tbsp shredded  Belgioiso Parmesan cheese per crisp

1 tbsp Tuscan or Italian Seasonings

Directions:

Depending on the size of your cookie sheet, grate enough Parmesan cheese to cover a cookie sheet with crisps, leaving an inch between each crisp.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread out the cheese gently in flat round shapes. I used the back of a spoon. Add a dash of seasonings in the middle of each crisp.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F, and when it’s warm, place the sheet in the middle of the oven for 5-10 minutes. Check regularly, and remove your crisps from the oven when they just start to get golden. Allow to cool off for just a few seconds and carefully remove from the parchment paper. The pan and crisp can still be hot, so be CAREFUL  AND  DO NOT FORGET TO ENJOY! 🙂

Thin Crust Cauliflower Pizza Sticks

This recipe was created because I wanted to eat cauliflower, but you just can’t eat cauliflower. It needs to be created and honey child, please it needs to taste not like cauliflower. I found a great recipe on Food Mamma website. But of course like all recipes I don’t really follow them. I think you should make  food your own, so tweak this one as well.

The funny thing, my husband could not tell that this was cauliflower. He thought it was real bread, so mama did good, y’all ( in my southern voice).

Cauliflower “Bread” Sticks  adapted (From An Edible Mosaic)
1 1/2 cups grated cauliflower

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cloves garlic, grated or minced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 1/2  oz white sharp cheddar, freshly grated and divided

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup for topping

1  teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning, divided

sea salt

pepper

chopped basil for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a tray with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray.
Grate the cauliflower, using a cheese grater or a food processor. Put the grated cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave (uncovered) until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally (don’t add water or anything else); cool slightly.

To the bowl with the softened cauliflower, add the garlic, egg, 4 oz of the cheese, 1/2 cup  of the parmesan cheese, 1/2  teaspoon of the dried Italian herb seasoning (reserving 1/2 teaspoon for topping later), and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then spread on a sheet pan forming it into a pizza crust.

Bake until set and starting to turn golden, about 25- 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Cut the crust into sticks. Slightly separate the pieces and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning. Broil a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and golden in spots.  Add basil. Serve hot or warm.