Rule #257: Cheese is always a good idea.

‘Tis the season to shed the L-B’s and eat a lil’ healthier, am I right? Well then my dieting friend, if you’re wanting to find a good substitute for rice for your every day dishes, this is just the doozy to do you in. It will take you less than 15 minutes to throw together, and it comes in at about 160 calories per serving (this recipe makes 2 very good-sized portions).

cauliflower rice

By browning the cauliflower bits for a good little while, you start to break down the pieces into tender little morsels. Adding the cheese and toasting it a little bit gives the texture an added thickness.

cauliflower rice

We love to have ours with Mexican Pork, Caribbean Pork, Mexican Taco Bowls (recipe coming soon), and many other things where we’d normally have cooked white rice.

cauliflower rice

The starting lineup: “caulibits” (finely chopped cauliflower – if your store doesn’t sell this, shred or chop 1 head of cauliflower in a food processor), shredded cheese (we use Colby Jack, but you can use cheddar or whatever you fancy), extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), Kosher salt, and black pepper.

cauliflower rice

First, you’re going to heat your EVOO to shimmering over medium-high heat. Add in the cauliflower, toss to coat in the oil, and let ’em toast until they get deep brown (about 10 minutes).

cauliflower rice

Make sure to stir it all around every once in a while. Ain’t nobody like burnt cauliflower.

cauliflower rice

So – I’m going to commit to an entire post on weighing your food, but I wanted to give a little preview to how I do it. I use a scale (this one to be exact) to weigh out the ingredients I’m using. Before you even turn on the scale, set whatever ingredient you’re using on top (in this case: mahhhh cheeeesse). Turn on the scale. It will automatically set its weight to ZERO, so, anything we use will then be a negative on the scale later on. Let me show you:

Here’s my full bag ‘o’ cheese. Scale is at ZERO.

cauliflower rice

I give a nice, healthy sprinkling of cheese on my cauliflower.

cauliflower rice

Then, I put the same bag back on the scale minus the cheese I just sprinkled. Voila! It shows a negative of 1.3 oz., so I know I’ve used that much in my recipe. (And yes, I did accidentally throw in that extra .3 oz. of cheese, my bad). Using a scale like this one is so much easier than you think! It’s not for everyone, but for data people + OCD folks like myself, I’m in love.

cauliflower rice

Give everything a good stir and melt the cheese down. Then, add in your salt and pepper.

cauliflower rice

Healthy Side Dish: Accomplished.

cauliflower rice


Cheesy Cauliflower Rice

2 tbs. EVOO
1 bag cauliflower “bits”, or 1 head cauliflower, grated
1 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded (or cheddar)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the EVOO until shimmering. Add in the cauliflower, stir to coat, and sauté until browned (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle on the cheese, stirring constantly, and cook an additional minute until cheese melts. Stir in salt and pepper.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Cheesy Cauliflower Rice

Rule #301: Beets are delicious.

Yes, yes it is a rule now. It’s just how things are. I promise once you taste these unbelievably good for you bites of yummy, you’re never going to remember beets as that “yuck” vegetable ever again. Time to get rid of that, “I’ll give you beets for dinner if you don’t stop that @$&^@*#” stigma.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Apparently, beets are good for you. Like really good for you. Check out this article that tells you more, but basically… here’s what they can do for you:

They make your heart work better.

They make your brain work better.

They make your liver work better.

They make your tummy work better.

So, to summarize: beets are good for you. But also, they’re delicious.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Let’s be real though… beets are messy. I mean, all that pink goodness can leave your hands looking quite questionable in a county jail line-up if you know what I mean. I’ve ruined too many a good manicure making these little puppies. So, to combat this Pink Peeling Predicament, I decided to purchase some gloves at the local Target (pronounced Tarrrzzjjjjeeiiigghhht). I wore these while I peeled the beets, cut them, and when I tossed them in the vinaigrette. I’m happy to report my manicure is still well intact.

gloves

First things first, ya peel yer beets (same as ya do taters).

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

And here’s our cast of characters for this evening’s side dish: beets, red wine vinegar, rosemary, pinch ‘o’ sugar, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, black pepper, and EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil).

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Measure all your ingredients in a large measuring cup.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Give it all a good whisk until it looks like so:

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Cut your beets into wedges (highly suggest the gloves for this step), then pour the vinaigrette over the beets.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Give them a good toss and pour everything into a glass baking dish (I use my trusty 13×9 Pyrex). Make sure the beets are in as even a layer as you can get them.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Roast at 400 for about 50 minutes, sprinkle with some goat cheese and extra rosemary and voila! Healthy, delicious beet-y goodness.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

I’ve had tons of non-beet-leivers (get it? wait… was that too far? too pun-ny? okay, sorry…) who’ve tried these and LOVED them. I promise that vinaigrette + goat cheese will not steer you wrong, my friend.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese

Meet your new favorite vegetable.

roasted beets with dijon vinaigrette and goat cheese


Roasted Beets with Dijon Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese

1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped
Pinch of Kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of white sugar
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
2 lb. beets, peeled and cut into wedges
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a large measuring cup, measure out the EVOO and red wine vinegar. Add in remaining ingredients through Dijon mustard. Whisk until well combined.

In a large bowl, combine beets and Dijon vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Pour into a 13×9 Pyrex dish (or other oven proof dish). Make sure beets are in one even layer.

Roast at 400 for 50 minutes, tossing and flipping the beets halfway through.

Sprinkle goat cheese over the beets and garnish with more rosemary if desired.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Roasted Beets with Dijon Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese

There aren’t a ton of recipes I have that I can say are “family recipes” in the sense that they’ve been passed from generation to generation. THIS, however, is one of those recipes. My Grandma Lou made this when she’d host our family at my grandparents’ home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She and my Grandpa actually lived in a sort of ‘village’ in Albuquerque called Corrales.

Hence the name: Corrales Casserole.

corrales casserole

I love this picture: My Aunt Lynn (pronounced with a Texas accent – Annttt Liiinnn), my Momma, and my Grandma. This was taken in my Grandparents’ kitchen the night before my Anntt Liiinnn married her hubby. Their expressions make me laugh and take me back to that gorgeous house filled with so many memories.

corrales casserole

You can’t make anything in New Mexico without chiles – red or green – or “Christmas” if you get both red + green. While I LOOOOOOVE me some fresh green chiles (they freeze really well, too), we don’t always get those here in Texas. So, I have a go-to brand that I use when I need to have green or red chiles: Hatch. The great thing about the chiles is you can get them as mild or hot as you want. We tend to go with a blend (my Pitcher family are shaking their heads at me for not going full-on hot), but you can do whatever you’d like!

hatch green chiles

This recipe is super simple, cheesy, comforting, and perfect to pair with so, so many things. We love it with flank steaks on the grill, grilled chicken, and even burgers.


Here’s the easy-peasy breakdown of how to make this Pitcher Family Tradition:

Cook 2 cups dry rice (makes 6 cups cooked rice)

<If you don’t have a rice cooker, you need to get on that. It’s the best invention. Ever. Okay, maybe second best. The Squatty Potty has to be at the top.>

corrales casserole

This is best done the day before so the rice is cool and easy to crumble. Just store in a covered container in the fridge up to four days before assembling the casserole.

corrales casserole

Sauté 1 diced white onion in 4 tbs. unsalted butter over medium-high heat.

corrales casserole

Once the onions are cooked (about 8 minutes), toss in some chopped canned green chiles with their juices (or the real stuff if you can get your mits on it). Sauté another 5 minutes. 

corrales casserole

Combine everything in a large bowl: cooked rice, onion + chiles, Colby Jack cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, green onion, and a little Kosher salt + black pepper.

corrales casserole

When I say large bowl, I mean a LAARRGGGEE bowl. This is a lot of New Mexican goodness, and you’re gonna need room to stir, my friend.

corrales casserole

Spray an oven-proof dish with cooking spray. Dump everything in and smooth out the top. 

corrales casserole

Top with more cheese. 

corrales casserole

**Make ahead: if you want to make this ahead of time, just cover this fella with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day before cooking. Remove it from the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking, then bake as directed below.**

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until cheese is gold and bubbly. Garnish with more green onion.

corrales casserole


Corrales Casserole

4 tbs. unsalted butter
1 white onion, chopped
2 8-oz. cans diced green chiles (we use 1 mild + 1 hot)
6 cups cooked white rice (from 2 cups dry rice)*
1 16-oz. container cottage cheese
1 16-oz. container sour cream
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the white onion and sauté until onions are tender (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the green chiles (including the juice) to the skillet. Stir and cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, break up the cooked rice with your hands so there are no large clumps. Add the onions + chiles, cottage cheese, sour cream, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 of the green onions, and 1 cup Colby Jack cheese. Stir to combine (use your hands if you need to).

Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the rice mixture, smooth out the top, and top with remaining cheese.**

Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes.

Garnish with remaining green onions.

*Rice can be cooked and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days before making the casserole.

**Make ahead: At this point, you could cover the casserole and store in the fridge (up to 1 day ahead) until you’re ready to cook it. Remove it from the fridge about 20 minutes before baking, and bake as directed above.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Corrales Casserole

Allllllllrighty then. It’s that time of year again, folks. Time for roasts, stews, and my personal favorite, MASHED POTATOES. To make the BEST, and I mean the FREAKING BEST mashed taters of your life, you’ve gotta have this recipe. The key is all in the tool to get the “mashed” effect… I’ll give you a hint… it ain’t no potato masher.

mashed potatoes

Hello, lover.

mashed potatoes

Sorry, that got weird for a second. As I was saying, the key is in the tool. But another little tip would be the “wet mixture” that goes into the spectacular spuds. It’s whole milk + butter + thyme + bay leaves. I didn’t say this was a light recipe, buddy. This is fall, y’all. Get yer stretchy pants on.

mashed potatoes

Liquid Gold.

mashed potatoes

It’s worth every sinful calorie, too.

Then you add yer salt and pepper (I use about 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt + 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper).

mashed potatoes

Another beaut about this recipe is that the spuds can be made ahead of time. You just reserve some of the liquid you boil the potatoes in, heat it all up, and stir in the starchy liquid. Voila. Potato magic.

mashed potatoes

Basic breakdown:

“Peel da potatoes” (please tell me you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding and you said it in the mom’s voice).

Don’t use Russet (baking) potatoes for your mashed potatoes anymore, my friend. Always go Yukon Gold. They’re butterier, creamier, and are much easier to cook to the perfect, fluffy perfection you want.

mashed potatoes

Cut up yer taters into equal pieces. Cover with COLD water about 1″ above the taters.

mashed potatoes

Lid on. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook these little spuddy buddies for about 20-25 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain but keep about 1/2 cup of the starchy liquid for later.

mashed potatoes

Return the drained spuds to the hot pot and cook over medium heat until they’re dry again (about 1 minute), stirring.

mashed potatoes

Time to make the magic happen.

mashed potatoes

Spoon the spuds into your potato ricer (like the one below). Make sure you do this while the potatoes are still hot (hence why I said spoon and not scoop with your hand). If you let the potatoes cool, the texture gets out of whack.

Check this one out.

mashed potatoes

Rice those little spuds to oblivion.

mashed potatoes

Now, your potatoes are light and fluffy but still have that fantastic potato starch and taste. When you mash potatoes, you actually release more and more starch with each motion. When you rice potatoes, you only “process” them once, resulting in a better texture for your gorgeous mashed potatoes. On that note, I will never call them “riced” potatoes no matter what method I used. Mashed potatoes are forever etched in my memory as the ultimate comfort food.

So there.

mashed potatoes

Get ready to be the hit of your fall feast, mis amigos.

mashed potatoes


Best Mashed Potatoes

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2” pieces
1 tbs. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1½ cups whole milk
3 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
2 bay leaves
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cold water up to 1” above potatoes. Add 1 tbs. salt, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, (about medium-low), remove cover, and cook until potatoes are fork tender but not crumbling apart (about 20-25 minutes).

Reserve 1/2 cup starchy cooking liquid*. Drain potatoes. Return to stockpot and cook over low heat until dry (about 1 minute), stirring gently. Pass hot potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl (don’t allow to cool or potatoes will lose their fluffly texture).

Meanwhile, heat milk, thyme, bay leaves, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, stirring occasionally (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Remove herbs from warm milk mixture; discard.

Gradually add milk mixture to potatoes, stirring with a spoon until combined and smooth; season with salt (about 1 1/2 tsp.) and pepper (about 3/4 tsp.).

Garnish potatoes with some extra pats of butter (if desired) and thyme sprigs.

*Do Ahead: Potatoes can be made ahead of time. Just before serving, warm potatoes and reserved cooking liquid. Gently stir in 1/4 cup cooking liquid. If potatoes aren’t thin enough, add remaining liquid until desired consistency is achieved.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Mashed Potatoes

What a perfect time of year: the end of summer, the beginning of school, the beginning of (slightly) cooler weather, and of course fall decor. Gotta love it! I also love this time of year because of the delicious summer vegetables available at Farmer’s Markets and in the grocery stores. Completely perfect tomatoes + summer squash + succulent corn-off-the-cob make for the ultimate end of summer vegetable medley.

Mexican Veggie Medley

What’s not to love here: deep Mexican spices + cool cotija cheese + zippy cilantro + delectable summer veggies.

And all for just 110 calories per serving (4 hearty servings from this recipe).

Mexican Veggie Medley

BUT! Before I get into this delicious side dish… a few randoms for this perfect Friday.

I just put this little fella together to stay on our porch (hopefully) all fall. I got the planter for just $30 at Target – I’d been stalking him literally all season. As I was checking out, a very sweet woman in line gave me a tip to stuff the bottom with grocery bags, then pour on the soil and plant the flowers. It’s working well so far and is WAY cheaper than having to fill this whole bad boy with potting soil. I once read in a Southern Living magazine that when it comes to making a dramatic potted arrangement, you want: a thriller, a filler, and a spiller. In this case, my thriller + filler are the same plant, and the purple sweet potato vine are my spiller. Love the concept though!

fall planter

If those cheeks ever go away, I’m going to protest by eating until they grow back onto my face. I can’t even handle.

corey douglas

My little J.J. Watt, y’all.

corey douglas

Except not really. The thought of him playing football makes me get mama rage already. Ain’t nobody hittin’ my baby.

corey douglas

He was still sleeping when I picked him up from school on Thursday. I had to take a picture of the absolute sweetness of this scene. It was kind of torturous to wake him up. I could’ve watched him sleep like that for at least 3 days.

corey douglas

Okay – back to veggies.

Here’s the easy peasy breakdown for this yumminess:

Wrap each corn cob in foil (no oil or S&P – just foil).

Mexican Veggie Medley

Throw ’em on a baking rack and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool.

 

Mexican Veggie Medley

I can’t remember the first place I saw this trick, but it became an instant game changer when it comes to cutting corn off the cob.

Getchya a bundt pan (okay, please tell me you read that like the lady from My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Mexican Veggie Medley

Set the corn cob in the middle of the bundt [booooonttt] pan. Start cutting the cobs and let the little fellas fall straight into the well of the pan.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Whoever thought of this is a genius. It’s so much easier to cut + keep the kernels together than just doing it on a cutting board. Gotta love a good kitchen hack.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Next, getchyer summer veggies + chop ’em up. Just a rough chop will do, but make sure the pieces are as uniform as you can get them.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Throw everything into a biggo pot with some EVOO. Sprinkle with seasoning + sauté over medium-high heat for a bit.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Meanwhile, crumble up some cotija goodness.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Before you know it, your easy-peasy, Mexican-y, healthy side dish is done.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Throw on that cheese + some cilantro.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Pair this with your next taco night or make it all into a huge taco bowl with some beans + grilled chicken. Nom Nom.

Mexican Veggie Medley


Mexican Veggie Medley

3 corn cobs, husks removed
1/4 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tbs. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs. EVOO
1 yellow summer squash, chopped
1 zucchini squash, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled
2 tbs. cilantro leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

Wrap corn in foil and place directly on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, or until kernels are cooked. Once cool enough to handle, cut kernels from corn.

Meanwhile, mix together all the spices (oregano through pepper) in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt EVOO in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash, garlic, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with spices and stir to combine. Cook just until squashes are al dente (about 10 minutes).

Remove to a serving platter and garnish with cotija cheese and cilantro.