Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

Zucchini is not my favorite vegetable.  There, how’s that for an opening statement?  It truly isn’t, or wasn’t, rather.  It’s not that I really disliked zucchini, but in the past, if given the choice, I generally chose other ingredients to work with.  I thought of it as bland and lacking “personality.”  As it turns out, I’ve really come around to enjoying this wonderfully subtle vegetable.  It just took a little coaxing from a very good, very talented friend.

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing it

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

My friend, Amanda Paa, from HeartBeet Kitchen, has just published her very first cookbook, “Smitten with Squash”, dedicated entirely to that vegetable.  I first met Amanda a few years ago at a mutual food-blogger friend’s cabin.  I loved her ever-present smile and her calm demeanor.  She was chopping vegetables endlessly in the kitchen and more than happy to be doing so.  To say this girl is lovely doesn’t do her justice.  We both belong to the group Fortify (a local food group), so we continued to run into each other at events.  We eventually discovered that we live just a few blocks from one another.  We frequent the same restaurants, coffee shops, and farmers markets, and we never ever tire of talking about food together.  We’ve become wonderful friends and I couldn’t be happier to share a recipe from her new cookbook with you!

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

It’s fun to have the inside scoop on someone’s book-writing journey.  In some small way, it made me feel like I was part of it.  She worked so hard and spent much of her winter huddled-up writing.  The result is this wonderful book full of recipes for both summer and winter squash.  Sweet or savory, she’s covered it all and then some. If you’re looking for inspiration for this particular vegetable, this is the cookbook you need.

During her creative process, I had the opportunity test a few of her recipes.  This wonderful zucchini cauliflower gratin is a heaping dish of chopped vegetables seasoned with herbs and parmesan cheese. There is just enough cream in it to give it a proper gratin feel, but the added milk keeps it from being too heavy.  And every single bite is laced with just enough rosemary to keep you wanting another.  Lastly, the parmesan crust on the top adds a little cheesiness, with a nice contrast in texture.  I pile this gratin high on my plate with no regrets.  It’s perfect paired with a grilled meat and a glass of wine.  Not to mention my kids and husband all love it, too.

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It

I’m giving away a copy of Amanda’s book to one lucky reader (only in the US– sorry)!  You want this book, you really do.  She gets so creative with this vegetable– you’ll want to cook through the entire thing.  Even if you aren’t the winner, I would encourage you to order it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble– you won’t be disappointed.  To enter, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck!

Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin | Relishing It And to you, Amanda– I am so happy to call you a friend.  You are one of the most selfless and giving people I’ve met.  Congratulations on your beautiful book– I’m truly excited to see what comes next for you.

Enter Giveaway Here — a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Recipe: Zucchini Cauliflower Summer Gratin

(serves 4)

1 large head cauliflower

kosher salt

1 1/4 pounds zucchini, coarsely grated

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup grated parmesan, divided (or more!)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Prepare the cauliflower by removing the core and breaking the rest up into smaller pieces.  Then, using a food processor (or a sharp knife), pulse the cauliflower until they are tiny pieces that resemble rice grains.  Be care that the mixture doesn’t get mushy.  You may have to do this in batches.  You should yield about 3 1/2 cups.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly coat a shallow baking dish with olive oil and set aside. Stir 1 teaspoon salt and grated zucchini together, then place colander set over a bowl to drain.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add onions and a big pinch of salt, and cook stirring, until softened, about 4-5 minutes.   Meanwhile, squeeze handfuls of zucchini over a bowl to catch the juices, removing most of the water from the zucchini, yielding 2/3 cup shreds.

When the onion is softened, reduce heat to medium and stir in the cauliflower, garlic, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.  Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir to combine.  Gradually stir in reserved zucchini water, milk, and cream, maintaining heat at medium so dairy does not curdle.  Cook for 2-3 minutes so liquid absorbs slightly. Remove from heat.  Stir in 1/3 cup parmesan, rosemary, and parsley.  Pour into prepared dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with remaining cheese (or more, if you like).  Return to the oven for another 10 or so minutes until gratin is brown and bubbly.  Sometimes I put the gratin under the broiler to brown up a bit faster for the final minute or two.  Enjoy!

Check out these other great blogs for more recipes from “Smitten with Squash”.  If you happen to live in the Twin Cities, be sure to stop by Solo Vino in St. Paul from 5:00-7:30 this evening for Amanda’s first book signing– I’ll be there, too!

A Farmgirl’s Dabbles — Bumper Crop Spicy Squash Pickles

Fresh Tart — Chimichurri Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

Robin Writes — Garam Masala Dusted Pattypans & Crispy Chickpeas with Tahini Sauce

Dolly and Oatmeal — Banana and Oat Streusel Summer Squash Muffins

Healthy Green Kitchen — Cherry Tomato and Summer Squash Cobbler with Rosemary Biscuits

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!





Happy Hour: Rye Mule | Relishing It

Today’s cocktail is a lovely little three-ingredient number that is simple to make, and tastes fantastic.  This is a thirst quenching cocktail and I suppose you could even say that it can be a bit dangerous.  It’s one of those where you taste no alcohol– you’ve been warned.  The rye melds into the sea of ginger beer and lime, giving it the flavor of a crafted soda rather than an alcoholic beverage.   The lime offers a refreshing zing, while the ginger beer lends a subtle “bite”.  We happen to love this drink, and are so thankful to a certain friend from my husband’s hometown for introducing it to us (you know who you are D.S.).

Happy Hour: Rye Mule | Relishing It

I suppose I should note that you certainly don’t need to use a high-end rye for this drink.  In fact, it’s almost silly to do so.  The one I used was all we had in the house, but normally we use Bulleit Rye.  It works just fine, and is reasonably priced.  You may have noticed that I didn’t photograph the ginger beer.  My favorite brand is not very photogenic (it comes in a silver can), but I’ll tell it to you anyway.  I like “Gosling’s” ginger beer– it has a nice/strong ginger flavor, but more importantly– it’s really carbonated!  There are so many lovely bottles of ginger beer available nowadays, but I find that many of them really lack carbonation.  So,  I’ll be sticking to Gosling’s…in the ugly can.  Unless any of you have a good recommendation?  It’s almost the weekend, friends.  Cheers to you!

Happy Hour: Rye Mule | Relishing It

The Recipe: Rye Mule

(makes 1)

2 ounces Rye

4 ounces ginger beer

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Fill a high-ball cocktail glass with ice.  Add the rye, ginger beer, and lime juice.  Mix with a stirring stick.  Drink. :)

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!



Pickled Eggs with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

My Mom used to raise chickens on our farm when I was growing up.  To be honest with you, sometimes those crabby hens would scare the heck out of me, but I sure developed a love of the eggs they provided.  Farm fresh eggs– there is nothing better.  One of my favorite ways to eat them is pickled.  I previously shared a favorite recipe of mine for pickled eggs.  And though I absolutely love that version– the spicy heat is just too much for my kids.  Today’s version with beets and dill has absolutely no heat– but the flavor is unreal.  I was worried that my husband wouldn’t quite go for it.  I love beets, but I thought it might be too much for him to embrace.  I was completely wrong.  Even without the heat, he was loving them.

Pickled Beets with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

Beets and dill are an excellent combination.  Here, the eggs take on a beautiful deep purple hue and are laced with a dill flavor.  The beets and onions become perfectly pickled, as well.  Chopped up they work wonderfully atop egg-salad sandwiches, paired with pork, or just eaten as a snack.  The beets remain somewhat crunchy, which I love.  The eggs pickle rather quickly–and the lovely purple hue is present after just a day or so.  The longer the eggs sit in the vinegar, the less white from the eggs will be present.  Eventually the entire egg will be purple.  Which tastes amazing, but if dramatic effects are what you are after– it’s best to eat them within 5 days, or so.

Pickled Beets with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

Eggs are a perfect, portable protein to snack on– we pack them a lot for school lunches and for summer outings. Make sure to buy good quality eggs, preferably from a farmers market or co-op.  You’ll end up worrying a lot less when you feed them to your family. Give this version a try–I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Pickled Beets with Fresh Beets and Dill | Relishing It

The Recipe: Pickled Eggs with Fresh Beets and Dill

(makes 2 quarts)

10-12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled  *see note

2 beets, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small white onion, peeled and thinly sliced

6-8 garlic cloves

4 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon pickling spice

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh dill sprigs

white vinegar (enough to fill each jar)

Note: To properly boil eggs– add eggs to a large sauce pan filled with water.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute, cover with lid, and remove from heat.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Then immediately drain the eggs and place them in a bowl of cold water filled with ice.  This will stop the cooking process and yield a perfectly hard-boiled egg.

Divide all the ingredients between the two quart jars.  Layer the eggs, beets, and onions.  Fill each jar with enough vinegar to cover all of the ingredients.  Put lids on the jars and give a gentle shake to mix the ingredients.  Place in the refrigerator.  Eggs will be ready in about 2 days.  The flavor and color will deepen the longer they sit.  After about 2 weeks, their texture may start to change and be less firm, so it’s best to eat them before that happens. Enjoy!

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Relishing It!



Corpse Reviver No. 2 | Relishing It

The weekend is almost here, and I’m getting a little more giddy by the hour.  I’m smiling thinking of all the possible things to do.  That’s the brilliant thing about Friday, isn’t it?  It’s the potential.   This weekend we don’t have any concrete plans yet, and that makes my mind wander all the more.  Shall we explore these two great cities we live in a bit?  Take a drive out to the farm that’s been growing our CSA food? Find a beautiful lake or river to relax by?  As evening rolls around, perhaps have a cockta…?  Oh wait, that last one was a silly question.  Of course we’ll be having a cocktail.

Corpse Reviver No. 2 | Relishing It

In fact, I can say with some certainty that I’ll be having this cocktail– the Corpse Reviver No. 2.  It is without a doubt one of my favorite summer drinks.  Radd first introduced it to me last year and it was love at first taste.  He had been out of town, walked into a cocktail bar, and asked the bartender to make something “interesting.”  This is what he got (along with the recipe) and it blew him away.  We’ve been making it ever since.

So what’s with the weird name?  Apparently it was an old hangover cure that would revive your corpse after a long night in the pub.  It was first listed in the Savoy Cocktail Handbook by Harry Craddock in 1930, so it has been around for awhile.

Corpse Reviver No. 2 | Relishing It

This cocktail basically tastes like jacked-up lemonade with a twist.  That twist being a hint of anise flavor from the absinthe rinse.  It’s subtle and oh-so-very intriguing!  It’s a perfect sipping cocktail when it’s hot outside and the sun is shining down.  If you make this– I’m almost certain you will love it.  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!  Cheers!

Corpse Reviver No. 2 | Relishing It

The Recipe: Corpse Reviver No. 2

(serves 1)

1 oz. gin

1 oz. Cointreau (or Triple Sec)

1 oz. Lillet blanc

1 oz. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Absinthe rinse.

Combine and shake the gin, Cointreau, Lillet, and lemon juice over ice and let rest for a minute or so.  While the ingredients are resting, pour about a half teaspoon of absinthe into a well-chilled cocktail glass and roll the glass allowing the absinthe to coat the sides.  Discard the absinthe that remains in the glass.  Give the ingredients another shake and strain it into your absinthe-rinsed glass.  Serve with a lemon twist.

Thanks for visiting Relishing It!  See you next week.


Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

We eat an obscene amount of tacos in this house– especially in summer.  It’s just such a perfect time for them with all of the fresh ingredients so readily available for toppings.  Plus, they’re super easy, which is wonderful considering there are so many things I usually want to be doing other than standing over my stove or grill.  I’ve been searching for a perfect barbacoa recipe for awhile now.  And by golly, I’ve found it!  I’ve tried several that were fine, but not particularly memorable.  That is, until I stumbled upon this one.

Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

I wanted something that was somewhat saucy, but more importantly had a nice tang to it.  When I read this recipe, I immediately knew it had great potential– it contained both cider vinegar and lime juice.  Bingo!  It also had the freshness I was looking for with cilantro, garlic, and onions blended in to make a perfect sauce. A little intrigue from the addition of cloves and a bit of heat from the smokey chipotle peppers in adobe sauce confirmed that this was what I had been looking for.

Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

I knew I didn’t want to fire-up the oven long enough to cook five pounds of beef.  My house would be a sauna at the end of it.  Cooking overnight in the slow cooker was a perfect solution.  It yielded a perfectly tender piece of beef that was perfectly, “tang-ily”, seasoned.  Reducing the cooking liquid at the end really concentrated those flavors, too.  This barbacoa is perfect to feed a crowd of people, like we did, or make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for quick, delicious weeknight meals.  I finally caved-in a bought a tortilla press and have happily been perfecting my corn-tortilla skills– more on that later.  But, for now– feel free to make these tortillas and drink this margarita for your taco party.  Oh, and for variety– here’s a wonderful carnitas recipe! You’ll be inviting me over, right?  Adiós, muchachos!

Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Perfectly Tangy Slow Cooker Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

(serves a large crowd)

For the Avocado Tomatillo Salsa:

Use this recipe and add 1 avocado.  Blend everything together.  Cover and keep in the refrigerator.

For the Barbacoa:

1 bunch cilantro, rough chopped

1 red onion, cut into chunks

1 head of garlic, peeled

4 canned chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce that they sit in (use less if you want less heat)

juice of 4 limes

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

cracked black pepper, to taste

5 dried bay leaves

4-6 cups chicken or beef stock, preferably homemade

4-7 pounds beef roast (any tough piece of meat will work/brisket, chuck, etc.)

Place the beef in a large slow cooker, my oval one worked perfectly.  You can use 1 piece of meat, or cut what you have into a few pieces so it fits properly and so it cooks uniformly.

To a food processor add the following ingredients (or chop everything very finely using a knife): cilantro, onion, garlic, chipotle peppers and their sauce, lime juice, cider vinegar, ground cloves, salt, and pepper.

Pour the mixture over the beef and add enough broth to cover the meat.  Add the bay leaves.  Stir the sauce and broth together and cover with the lid.  Turn the sow cooker onto the “low” setting and cook for 8-10 hours.  The beef will be completely tender and shred easily with a fork when it’s done.  If your beef doesn’t appear this way when you feel that it’s done–cook it longer.  The collagen will eventually break down and yield a tender piece of meat.  Remember, every slow cooker cooks a bit differently.

When the beef is done, remove it from the liquid and shred it with two forks (removing any fat, too).  Place the liquid into a large sauce pan and heat uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about half or more (feel free to skim any fat off, too).  Use your best judgement, you will be pouring this mixture over the shredded meat, so it depends upon how much liquid you prefer in your barbacoa.

Combine the sauce and beef together in the slow cooker.  Use it to make tacos!  Serve it with tortillas, queso fresco or coitja cheese, radishes, cilantro, onions, jalapenos, limes, and the Avocado Tomatillo Salsa.  The barbacoa reheats and freezes very well.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Kitchn

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!







Cocktail Cherries | Relishing It

It’s no secret that my husband and I enjoy a good cocktail on occassion.  I’m lucky that Radd is quite a talented “mixologist”– though I don’t really like that term.  Even so, it’s true.  So since I have access to his skills, I’m planning to share a few of our absolute favorite summer cocktails in the coming weeks here on Relishing It.  They’re mostly classics or variations of well-established cocktails– because, to be honest, those are the best ones.  Today’s recipe (if you can even call it that) coincides with that.

Cocktail Cherries | Relishing It

Cocktail cherries are the perfect accompaniment to so many drinks, and making your own is simple.  You can use whatever type of cherries you have.  I used sweet cherries, because they are readily available here in Minnesota.  When sour cherries eventually show up in the markets, I’ll definitely be making another batch using those.  You can use a variety of different liqueurs to make a cocktail cherry.  For instance, I recently asked a bartender that makes a brilliant margarita here in town what they use to make their cherries (brandy and simple syrup).  For this recipe, I wanted something a little-less sweet.  These soak in a maraschino cherry liqueur.  The longer the cherries sit in it, the more developed the cherry becomes.  Two weeks usually does it, though we definitely used them sooner.  And don’t throw out the liqueur when the cherries are gone.  You can use it along the way to add to other cocktails.  Be creative!  We love to put them atop this margarita, in particular.  Enjoy!

Cocktail Cherries | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Cocktail Cherries

(makes 1 quart)

About 1 1/4 pounds sweet cherries (sour cherries would be excellent, too)

2 1/2 cups Maraschino Liqueur (I used Luxardo)

*Pitting the cherries is totally optional

Fit the cherries snuggly into a clean quart jar.  Bring the liqueur to a simmer in a saucepan and then pour it over the cherries.  Let cool at room temperature.  Then, put a lid on and refrigerate.  They will taste the best if you are patient and let them marinate for about 2 weeks.  I’m not nearly so patient and used them earlier.

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!



The Best Margarita | Relishing It

I try not to describe things as “the best” too often.  I’ve done it from time to time, but when I do I truly think the recipe deserves that title. This margarita?  It’s the best.  Full stop.  Ditch the store-bought margarita mix, because it doesn’t even come close.  And once you make this sublime cocktail, it’ll be the measuring stick against which you judge all others.  There, how’s that for a recommendation?

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

I’d been planning to make these margaritas for a gathering of some of our dearest friends this past weekend.  We’re a group that has been close since our early college days, but as is often the case, it’s just difficult to get everyone together as we’ve become adults.  It was fantastic being able to sit in the back yard sharing stories, drinking margaritas and eating tacos (more on that in another post), and watching all of our kids run around.  Summer at it’s finest.

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

Now to the margarita.  This one requires a little planning, but don’t let that scare you off– it’s easy to make.  What it doesn’t involve is a long list of strange or unpronounceable ingredients.  Lemon, lime, sugar, and a decent mid-price tequila.  The reason it tastes so damn good is due to the time you should let the flavors meld together in the refrigerator.  I did it for 24 hours (actually a bit more, to be honest).   The lemon, lime, and sugar really have a chance to become one– it takes on an entirely different citrus when you give it the time.  If you’re short on time, four hours will probably work.  Just remember the longer it sits, the better it will be.  I’m planning to keep some in my refrigerator throughout the week, so it’s at the ready when I fancy a good margarita.  Which means I’ll probably be having one every night.  Nothing wrong with living a little, right?  I also made those cocktail cherries that crown the drink– I’ll share that recipe soon, as well.

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Recipe:  The Best Margarita

(serves 4-6)

4 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)

4 teaspoons lime zest

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 3-4 limes)

1/4 cup super-fine sugar (or use granulated that has been blended in a food processor.  Super-fne sugar is needed so it dissolves adequately)

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup 100% Agave Tequila (make sure it’s a Reposado– a type that’s aged in oak barrels for between 2 months to a year)

1 cup Triple Sec

Note: We tripled this batch.  The juice mixture fit nicely into a quart jar and then a large glass pitcher when we combined the alcohol and served it.  As long as the ice is not combined directly into the pitcher, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator and used when you want. 

Combine all of the ingredients into a pint jar, except the liquor.  Shake and refrigerate for at least 4-24 hours (or longer).   When ready to serve, strain the mixture into a serving pitcher (this will remove the zest) and add the liquor.  Stir.  Serve in a glass that has been prepared using lime around the edge and dipped into margarita salt.   Fill each glass with ice and pour the margarita mixture into it.  Add a cocktail cherry, if desired.  Cheers!

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!




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