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Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

This is a version of “Twice Baked Potatoes” using cauliflower.  Who does not love loaded baked potatoes?  I know I do, but if you are looking to lower your carb count, here is a great alternative.  A special tool that I used for this recipe was a “Potato Ricer“and I used the smallest “die”.  I wanted a really smooth product like mashed potatoes.  I tried a blender, my Kitchen Aid stand mixer but the ricer produced the smoothest result between the three.  If you have a food mill, you could also try that and I think next time I will to see if I get a smoother result.

The ingredients in this recipe really worked well, but you can always add or take away something as desired.

Local note – Cauliflower is from Sanger, California.

Loaded Cauliflower
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 6 ounces sour cream
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 6 slices bacon, crumbled
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt/pepper
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Cut cauliflower in to medium to small chunks. Steam until tender.
  3. Using a potato ricer, "rice" cauliflower into a medium bowl.
  4. Add sour cream to "riced" cauliflower and stir. Save some of the green onion, bacon and cheddar cheese for garnish. Add remaining green onions, bacon and cheddar cheese and stir.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Place mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.
© Cinder's Kitchen


Hickory Smoked Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Hickory Smoked Gazpacho Soup

After attending a BlogHer Food Conference earlier this year, I was asked by to be a guest on their Fresh Bites Blog.  This is the recipe I came up with for the post and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the layers of flavors, refreshing with a little crunch from the vegetables of a cold soup.

On a local note –  All from California.

Tomatoes, onions and cucumber are from Knightsen. Garlic from Gilroy.

Cilantro & corn from Brentwood.  Onion from Stockton.


Here is the post:

A Late Summer #RecipeForHappiness Starring Grilled Tomatoes

Imagine being in a big room buzzing with excited food bloggers! That was Allrecipes’ experience this past June when the annual BlogHer Food conference took place in a hotel right down the street from our offices. One of the bloggers we met then was Cindi Marino, the writer behindCinder’sKitchen. A recent blogger—she says she ‘officially’ started her blog this year in July—and considers it a ‘work in progress.’ But she also notes, “I guess I started “blogging” before I knew what blogging was. I have notebooks of my foodie experiences, before anyone owned personal computers, notebooks with so many tried-and-true recipes, holiday menus from the past and little “food finds” from here and there. I did not know I was a foodie when I started collecting cookbooks. When I got married (28 years ago), I owned one cookbook and borrowed a couple from my mother-in-law for recipe ideas. Now I probably own well over 200, and cannot part with any one of them.” Her Cinder’sKitchen blog focuses on the abundance of locally sourced produce, grown and picked right near her home in Northern California. 

When thinking about my personal #RecipeForHappiness, it always has to start with good food, good ingredients, good friends, and great belly laughs! There’s nothing better!

Having moved to Northern California from Southern California, I discovered the “good ingredients” part in all the local fruits and vegetables. Mind you, I knew they were there in Southern California too, but the nearest farm was a 30- to 40-minute drive. Depending on what we desired, it could be even further. Well, five miles from my present home I can now basically get most anything I want, and freshly picked.

My farmers’ market tomato bounty! (Photo by Cindi Marino)


What makes me happy every summer are CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) boxes, and farm stands filled with freshly picked fruit, vegetables, and homemade pies—so much good stuff that I feel like a kid in a candy store all the time. I scoop up as much as I dare, and then turn to my cookbooks or Whether for recipes themselves, to find inspiration to create other meal ideas or simply to reminisce about recipes I’ve forgotten. Allrecipes is a wonderful resource for cooks of any level.

The two things I most look forward to things are the heirloom tomatoes and cooking them on my ceramic cooker/grill. (Confession: I like my grill so much I own two!) When I visit a local farm stand, I walk around and admire the colorful tomatoes. They are breathtaking! People who know me will be surprised about my love affair with heirloom tomatoes, because I am not a big fresh tomato fan. However, these tomatoes taste totally different from the grocery store varieties. I adore their sweet, luscious, fresh flavor!

My favorite grill #1 (Photo by Cindi Marino)
My favorite grill #2! (Photo by Cindi Marino)


When I started to think about how I could use both tomatoes and my grill. I remembered a restaurant in Southern California called the Velvet Turtle. It had wonderful soups, and one of my favorites was gazpacho, which is a cold tomato soup. The recipe called for canned tomato juice, and it was delicious. Sadly, the chain is no longer in business and all outlets are closed. Well, I knew I had some kitchen homework to do.

The result is the following recipe that I think is reminiscent of the Velvet Turtle’s gazpacho, but with a little twist from my grill. Grilled tomatoes! You will not believe the smoky flavor you get from having your tomatoes on the grill for such a short time. Overall, the soup is deceptively simple to make and very flexible. Make it when you have an extra ear of corn on hand. Adjust its seasonings to suit your own tastes. Seriously, there is no wrong way to make it. Make it your own and enjoy!

Sliced heirloom tomatoes awaiting the grill (Photo by Cindi Marino)


And if you don’t have a grill, or are looking for other ways to use late summer’s bounty of tomatoes, check out these recipes. They’re a bunch of my favorites from Allrecipes that also use fresh tomatoes.

Double Tomato Bruschetta
Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa
Avocado-Feta Salsa
Insalata Caprese II
Chef John’s Gazpacho

If you do have a grill and want to try my method for grilling tomatoes for gazpacho with a twist, here’s my recipe.

Waiting for a spoon: A bowl of Hickory-Smoked Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (Photo by Cindi Marino)

Hickory-Smoked Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Servings: 6

10 heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 chunks hickory wood
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped
5 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
1 grilled corn-on-the-cob, corn sliced from the cob
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 outdoor grill
1 juicer (or a food mill or similar device)
1 food processor (or a blender)

1. Place the halved tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Prepare a charcoal grill and heat to 300 degrees F (149 degrees C). When temperature is reached, top the hot coals with the hickory chunks. Once the hickory chunks start to smoke, place the tomatoes onto the grill. Grill the tomatoes 2 minutes on each side, and then remove them from the grill to a plate Let the tomatoes cool.
3. Place the cooled tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor. In a separate bowl, reserve about 1/2 cup total of the chopped cucumber, onion and cilantro. Add the remaining chopped cucumber, onion, and cilantro to the tomatoes into the food processor bowl, and stir in the garlic. Pulse about 5 times to chop, or until the tomatoes reach the desired consistency. (NOTE: You will need to do this in several batches.) After each batch, pour the tomato mixture into a large bowl. Stir the corn, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine vinegar into the tomato mixture. Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. To serve, ladle the chilled gazpacho into bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle with the reserved cucumber, red onion, corn, and chopped cilantro mixture.

Cook’s Tips

  • The hickory chunks do not need to be soaked in water before using them on the grill.
  • For flavor variations, top the soup with cold, cooked shrimp; avocado slices, bell pepper chunks, or jalapeño peppers, etc.

Find – Aladdin’s “To-Go Tumbler”

Iced Coffee! Who knew? 🙂

I have never really had iced coffee before.  On a recent trip to Seattle, where I attended the BlogHer Food Conference I received a bag of goodies.  In the bag was a 16 ounce tumbler with straw from Aladdin.  I thought okay, we can always use one of these.  Well, to tell you the truth, this one is REALLY different.  I had bought a couple of tumblers from my single serve coffee supplier, they were cool, but not dishwasher safe and really did not keep my drinks icy for a long period of time.


I have heard of Aladdin before, you know lunch boxes and especially the lunch bottles where you could have soup as school for lunch.  I have bought many of their products for our family and I even had their metal lunch boxes as a kid.  Great products, right?  Well, this one is too.  Ever since trying it out, I have been having iced coffee non-stop  especially since my drink stays “icy” for hours!  After 5 hours, my drink will still have ice cubes and mind you the coffee was hot going in! AMAZING! You can check out their product here, they come in two sizes 16 ounces and 20 ounces, and with several color options.  Hmmm, I am thinking getting some as holiday gifts for family and friends.  Great idea, right?

Aladdin “To-Go” 16 ounce Tumbler


According to their website they point out the following features –
  • No Sweat exterior. Keep hands dry.
  • Reusable straw included. Hydrate on the move.
  • Classic styling. Familiar form, new function.
  • BPA free. Clear cup, clear conscience.
  • Top Rack Dishwasher safe. Ditch the dirty work.
  • Single-serve coffee machine compatible. Brew your favorite coffee right into your to-go tumbler.

Enjoy and Cheers!


P.S. – Little secret – the tumblers I mentioned above from my single serve coffee supplier were more expensive than the Aladdin tumblers and have less features.

Grilling Tips

I know that summer is winding down, but if you want a little food for thought about grilling plus tips. Consider perusing this article called “Crimes Against Grilling“.  Have a great Sunday!

Buy Fresh Buy Local

The “Community Alliance of Family Farmers is a non-profit organization that advocates for California’s family farmers and sustainable agriculture.”

I have added the widget below so you may find local food in your area.  This organization is a California based organization.  Try and seek one out in the area where you live and thank a farmer! Buy fresh and buy local!


find local food

Search for local food from California’s farms, stores, restaurants & more!

but fresh

Whole Living Magazine – $3.99/yr.

Thought I would give a heads up for a Whole Living Magazine deal that expires tomorrow.  I have posted the description from  BradsDeals below.

“Get a selection of top family and educational children’s magazine subscriptions from $3.99 this weekend only at DiscountMags, an exclusive deal for our readers. Choose from Parents for $3.50, Whole Living or Family Circle for $3.99, Jack & Jill for $7.99 and more. This puts all titles at current price lows by at least $6. You can purchase at least two years worth of all titles, and you can also gift them to friends along with a free e-Card. This deal expires at 11:59 EST on 9/9.”

Check out the magazine’s website here.

Whole Living Magazine Deal

Whole Living
Whole Living magazine provides smart ideas on taking care of yourself, your family and the planet in ways that are natural and sustainable. Whole Living magazine promotes wellness, fitness and beauty, balance, community and living green.
Normal Price:
Special Price:
$3.99 ($0.40/issue) & free shipping
You Save:
$10.96 (73.31%) 

Eating Seasonally

Mushrooms! Can’t get them any fresher!

As part of the evolution of eating locally, eating seasonally is just as important. For myself, it is getting harder to remember what is grown when, especially with all kinds of fruits and vegetables imported from other countries. I remember growing up we could not wait for strawberry season to begin, and in Oxnard, California they even have a festival every year honoring the California Strawberry. Now you can get strawberries all year long and for some reason I don’t think they taste as well in December as they do when purchased in season. I also remember on a trip to a Cozumel grocery store buying fruits and vegetables, I came across lettuce that was from Salinas, California! I am in Mexico and I can buy lettuce from California that is a little over 100 miles from where I live. Crazy.

Here is a website you can refer to if you need help figuring out what is in season and when. There is a link also where you can print it out the information for your use at home.

Refer – Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture

Here is another source for a seasonal chart (more regions coming) – To-Go Ware

Creamed Corn Bubba’s Way

Creamed Corn Bubba’s Way!

I don’t remember when I first tried/made this recipe but it is one of those comfort foods you fall back on every so often. This recipe was named after my dad “Bubba”, though there seems to be some rankling about who really came up with the recipe I just remember getting it from him.  But with that said, he also told me when I was about 6 years old he invented the Grilled Cheese Sandwich, so consider the source.  🙂

This recipe uses Brentwood Corn, it’s so simple and a special treat you might make it more than once.  We always buy yellow corn as we think the white corn is just too sweet for us. You use what you enjoy the most whether it be yellow corn, white corn or both!  For this recipe the corn should already be cooked before mixing with the other ingredients.   You can use corn from many sources of your choosing fresh, frozen, canned or ??? it is up to you.  I shucked the corn using “Ken’s Trick” from YouTube.  (Check out my Tips & Tricks page for the video)

Brentwood Corn 🙂

Local Food(s) – Corn is from Dwelley Farms in Oakley,  California (we bought a case!). Here is another one of my  favorite  sources forBrentwood Corn.

Creamed Corn Bubba’s Way

Cooked Corn Kernels from 3 Ears of Corn (These ended up weighing 10.7 ounces of kernels)

1 1/2 ounces of Cream Cheese

1/2  Tablespoon Butter

1/4  Teaspoon Seasoned Salt

2 Green Onions sliced for Garnish

Place all ingredients except green onion in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until melted & heated through.   Garnish with sliced green onion. Serve!

Tip – You can always add a dash of water if you think the mix is too thick. Not too much though. I ended up not needing to do so.

My Homework Project from IFBC – Christmas Lima Bean & Dill Pollen

I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon this year.  What a fun event and learned so much.  In attending a conference session titled “Break Out of Your Recipe Routine: Where to Discover New Meals to Blog About”   hosted by Alex Malott of and Currin Berdine of StumbleUpon.  They had a wealth of information to help trigger new ideas, recipes, and more.  In addition, they gave us “homework”.  Each of us received a package of ingredients to take home, create a recipe and write about it.  In my package courtesy of Marx Foods there were two ingredients I had never heard of before Christmas Lima Beans and Dill Pollen.


I wondered why they were called Christmas Lima Beans, because at first glance they looked speckled with a brown color, but now that I have soaked them they are a lively red and white/tan color resembling the colors of Christmas!

Heirloom Beans

The first website I visited told me how long to soak the beans (8 hours) and to cook them about 45 minutes.  Well, when that did not work I looked for more website posts.  I found one where the author said cooking the beans could take as long as 2 hours, and to not over cook them.  Well, these beans ended up cooking for hours!  I think at least 4 until they were done.  I lost count after a while.  I think I tasted more raw beans during the process than what was left at the end of the “assignment”. Well, I chose to make a bean salad with my ingredients and the end result was quite tasty.

Local Note – The green beans in this recipe are from Smith Family Farm in Knightsen, California.



Christmas Lima Bean & Farm Stand Green Bean Salad


Christmas Lima Beans

Farm Stand Green Beans

1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup Oil

1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

Dash/smidgen Dill Pollen

Soak the Christmas Lima Beans for at least 8 hours or overnight water covering the beans by over 2 inches.  Rinse. Then cook the beans in water, covering them with several inches of the water.  Boil until tender.  Replace water as necessary.  Once tender, drain and let cool.

Snap ends off green beans.  Place in steamer and steam with water until tender. Cool beans. Place both the Christmas Lima Beans and the green beans in a bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients, except dill pollen,  in a jar with a lid.  Place lid on jar and shake until all ingredients are mixed/emulsified.  Dress beans with the Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette to taste.  Sprinkle a very small amount of the dill pollen on the salad (the dill pollen is very potent).  Stir/toss the salad to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.  Serve as a side dish with BBQ meats, or as a dish by itself.  Enjoy!

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