Vegan Cauliflower Casserole with a Gluten Free Option

"Creamy" non-dairy, Cauliflower Casserole
“Creamy” non-dairy, Cauliflower Casserole

I grew up with two brothers but no sisters.  Through the North Fulton, GA chapter of Mocha Moms I now have about 80 sisters and I am so thankful for them all.  Last night my sisters and I had a wonderful evening of chatting, chocolate and cooking.

Vegan cauliflower casserole with gluten free option

I was honored to have the pleasure of doing a cooking demo for about 30 ladies, but what to cook for such a large group with diverse tastes and dietary needs. This cauliflower gratin relies on vegan “cream cheese” for it’s creamy sauce and nutritional yeast for it’s cheesy taste.  If you need a GLUTEN FREE version of this recipe leave off the panko gratin topping, replace them with potato chips and enjoy.

Cauliflower Casserole for my Sisters
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup medium chopped onion
  • ¼ cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup red bell chopped pepper
  • ¼ chopped celery
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 head of cauliflower (about 4 cups)
  • 4 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 4 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
  • ¾ cup vegan panko bread crumbs or potato chips
  • Salt
  1. Sauté onions, carrot, red bell pepper and celery in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until softened.
  2. Add lemon juice, water and cauliflower to the pan.
  3. Stir to mix all vegetables together and cover the pan.
  4. Steam on low for about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
  5. Stir vegan cream cheese, 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast and salt to taste into the cauliflower.
  6. In a bowl, mix panko crumbs, 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and sprinkle on top of cauliflower.
  7. Broil for 1 minute or so (watch it closely) until the topping is browned


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what to do with leftover roasted broccoli

So, I made roasted broccoli for dinner the other day and I have about 2 cups leftover roasted broccoli. It’s time to remix that into a delicious new meal. Here it is:

Broccoli pasta
Broccoli pasta
1 pound of spaghetti


2 cups roasted broccoli

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup half and half

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

2 beaten eggs

Boil pasta until al-dente.  While the pasta is boiling, sauté the broccoli in the olive oil.Drain the pasta (save about a cup of the pasta water) add the pasta to the broccoli.Add half and half and bring the pasta to a simmer.  Add the parmesan cheese , salt, pepper and red pepper flakes then remove from heat. Stir in the two beaten eggs , if the sauce is too thick you can thin it with the pasta water (just add a little bit at a time)Serve immediately with a little more grated parmesan if you like.
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The Chicken Challenge

Getting ready to do the chicken challenge. One chicken is from a "factory" farm and one is from a "family" farm.
Getting ready to do the chicken challenge. One chicken is from a “factory” farm and one is from a “family” farm.

I just completed my latest  “CHALLENGE”!!  We finished shooting a video looking at all aspects of these two very different chickens.  Price is a HUGE factor as well as taste.  We’re editing the video right now so stay tuned to see how it all pans out!!


the Bacon comparison

the bacon comparisonstore bought bacon on the left, homemade bacon on the right
the bacon comparison
store bought bacon on the left, homemade  salted bacon on the top right,homemade  cane syrup rosemary bacon on the bottom right
a strip of store bought bacon(can you hear the sad trombone playing?)
a strip of store bought bacon
(can you hear the sad trombone playing?)

The homemade bacon is so thick and delicious, you can really sink your teeth into it.  It’s moist and juicy inside but crisp on the outside….the store bought bacon has no inside so there is really no comparison.

The homemade bacon has a rich smoky flavor but it’s not too strong,  you can really taste the slightly sweet flavor of the pork as well.  Unfortunately the flavor of the store bought bacon was weak and wimpy, there was not much to it at all.

So the verdict is : I will take a little effort and a bit of time to make my  bacon at home.  It is TOTALLY worth it.


How to Cure and Smoke Your own Bacon + Pancake Recipe

How to Cure and Smoke Your own Bacon
The finished bacon, cooked and ready to eat


Got my stuff together.  Now that I have all my ingredients all I have to do is put it all together. The basic cure recipe I decided on was two teaspoons of pink curing salt and a quarter cup of kosher salt for every five pounds of pork belly.  Many cures call for a sugar or other sweeteners  but I wanted to have some bacon with no sugar.  I sprinkled one half of my pork belly with only this basic cure and to the other half I added the basic cure as well as 1/3 cup of cane syrup and a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary.  Each pork belly half gets it’s own sealed 2.5 gallon bag and is parked in the fridge for seven days.

Two bacon cures. One with only salt and sodium nitrite, one salt, sodium nitrite, cane syrup and rosemary
Two bacon cures. One with only salt and sodium nitrite, one salt, sodium nitrite, cane syrup and rosemary



¼ Cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon pink curing salt (Prague Powder no.1)

5 pound piece of pork belly

Mix the kosher salt and pink curing salt together and coat both sides of the pork belly. Place in a 2 or 2.5 gallon zip top bag. Let cure in the refrigerator for 7 days. Rinse, dry and place on a rack over a pan uncovered for 1 day.


¼ cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon pink curing salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/3 cup Steen’s cane syrup

5 pound piece of fresh pork belly

Mix the kosher salt, pink curing salt and rosemary together and coat both sides of the pork belly. Coat with cane syrup and place in a 2 or 2.5 gallon zip top bag. Let cure in the refrigerator for 7 days. Rinse, dry and place on a rack over a pan uncovered for 1 day.

Here’s where things get tricky. So I totally forgot that we were going out of town to visit my parents right in the middle of this whole project.  It’s not really a problem, I just packet it up in a cooler with a few re-usable ice packs and off we went.  This actually worked out really well because my Dad loves this kind of stuff, I knew he would get a kick out of helping me smoke the bacon and he certainly has all equipment.

On day seven we took the bacon out of the bags, rinsed them, dried them and put them on a rack over a pan.  Back into the fridge uncovered for another day to develop the pellicle. The pellicle is a slightly sticky coating that forms around the meat during air drying, it helps to hold the smoke flavor as well as protect the meat from drying during the smoking process.

SMOKE. I chose applewood chips for smoking because I wanted a fairly mild smoke flavor.  Soak the applewood chips in water for a half hour before putting them on the coals

The dark pork belly had the cane syrup cure, the lighter colored pork belly had just kosher salt and pink curing salt. My Dad’s smoker is set up a bit different than a regular grill. The coals and soaked applewood chip packets are placed in a trough in front of the pork belly.
the pork belly after smoking.
the pork belly after smoking.

Get your grill ready by building a pyramid of coals on the opposite side of the vents, if the coals are under the vents the smoke will escape .  Place soaked and drained applewood chips into three seperate  foil packets and poke holes in the top of  them.  Place the packet of applewood chips on top of the coals and place a foil pan of cool water next to the coals. The pan of water helps to moderate the temperature. Place the grill rack on the grill and put the bacon skin side up over the pan of water.  Smoke the pork belly for two and a half hours at  between 180 and 220 degrees.  Your pork belly is now smoked but not cooked.

Now you have BACON!! Remove the skin of the bacon and it’s ready to slice and cook.  It’s easier to slice if it is semi frozen so put it in the freezer for about a half hour.  The bacon can be stored in the fridge for a week or kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Here’s a recipe for some delicious pancakes to go with your homemade bacon.

Pancake Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 T lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾ cups ap flour
  • 2T sugar
  • 2t baking powder
  • ⅛ t salt
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2T melted butter
  • canola oil for the griddle
  1. Pour fresh lemon juice into the milk and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir.
  3. Add the egg to the milk and beat well to combine, add vanilla
  4. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture to combine.
  5. Stir in melted butter
  6. Brush your griddle or pan with oil
  7. Heat your griddle or pan to medium/high
  8. Pour pancake batter onto the griddle to make 3 inch pancakes (about 2 ounces of batter each)
  9. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side when bubble form and break flip the pancakes and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.



The Bacon Project


Bacon is everywhere. Its on doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate bars, even candles and soap. To each their own, but  I just want delicious, smoky, crispy bacon on a BLT or with oysters, something savory, salty and delicious.  One of the problems I’ve found with bacon from the grocery store is that it tends to be sliced too thin, even the “thick” bacon from fancy grocery stores is fairly thin which is fine for a sandwich but for some of the recipes I want to try I need a big hunk of bacon.  Another problem is that I have not been happy with the taste of store bought bacon .  It just ain’t right.

I decided that I’d make my own bacon.  First decision, to nitrite or not nitrite.  Nitrites (also referred to as pink salt or curing salt) in combination with kosher salt are added to cured and smoked products to inhibit the growth of bacteria.   There were several recipes I found that used only kosher salt to treat bacon but I don’t feel that is sufficient.  The pork belly that I was turning into bacon would sit in my refrigerator for a week and then be smoked at a low temperature for a few hours and that is  the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Also, the nitrites give bacon that special bacony good taste.

bacon ingredients
bacon ingredients

Get it started. I ordered the pink curing salt and some cane syrup  from Amazon and received it within a few days.  Then I visited Assi, an international market, to find my pork belly.  They had some pieces in the meat case but they were a bit too small, about 2 pounds each, I was looking for a large piece that was a least 5 pounds.  I asked the ladies that were packaging sausages behind the counter if they had any larger pieces of pork belly.  There was a bit of confusion, a language barrier and some strange looks but finally they called the butcher over and he brought out a huge 12 and a half pound pork belly.

twelve and a half pound pork belly cut in half

Stay tuned.  I’ll fill you in on how I got from belly to yummy, yummy bacon in a future post.

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