Just like the rest of the world, I'm in love with Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi. I love carbs, but if it's possible to eat a little healthier without noticing that carbs are missing, I'm game. I know there's a handful of you that don't have access to a Trader Joes or if you do, you live in an area where it's constantly sold out so I wanted to try and make a copycat recipe from scratch at home!
So the ingredients on the back of the TJ's package say cauliflower, cassava flour, potato starch, olive oil and salt. I actually had everything I needed at home to get started on recipe testing! Pamela's Products sent me a box full of goods so I had their cassava flour which is 100% yucca root so gluten free, paleo, non-GMO and vegan. I also have a lot of tapioca starch at home because I use it to make steamed rice noodle rolls so I subbed that for the potato starch that's in the TJ's recipe - Bob's Red Mill has tapioca starch so it isn't too hard to find in stores, unlike the Asian brand I have and use at home.
I decided to boil the cauliflower vs use it raw. I just felt like the moisture from boiling it (even though I removed most of it) was needed in order to create a softer texture gnocchi.
DON'T SKIP READING THIS PART!!
Every cauliflower head is a different size. The one I used was fairly large so keep that in mind. (I would say that once riced, the head I used produced somewhere between 2-3 cups of cauliflower and it make like 3 batches of 20 gnocchi pieces.) The best way to figure out if you have the right ratio of flour/starch to cauliflower would be to make one little gnocchi and sear it on both sides in a skillet with oil and then taste-test it and adjust the ratio from there. I found that adding in more flour or starch makes the gnocchi more firm so if your results are soggy - add more of the flour/starch in small equal amounts and taste test again.
A few cauli gnocchi life hacks:
If you don't have a food processor or want to save time, you could probably purchase pre riced cauliflower and use that - just make sure if it's frozen, you try and get most of the liquid out of the cauliflower so that it's easier to combine with the flour and mold into pieces.
Also, for more flavor, you could add parmesan cheese or (vegan) nutritional yeast. I would say a a couple of tablespoons. Also not against the idea of seasoning the cauliflower with garlic powder or herbs like oregano, parsley and basil.
You can either fry or bake them. I fried them in a skillet with olive oil and fresh sage but the trick to frying and keeping the shape in tact would be popping them in the freezer for 15 minutes before adding them to the skillet! No need to freeze with baking since they sit still on the baking sheet the whole time. I also bet you could air fry them but I don't own an air fryer so I would check other bloggers recommendations for temperatures and settings.
I grew up eating these delicious little dough pockets every single year on Christmas Eve! They're a family staple from my dad's side. My Grandma learned how to make them from her mom (who I was lucky enough to have around for a lot longer than most people can say about their great grandparents!) This recipe has been passed down for generations from Polish roots so it's v authentic and v special to lots of people in my family.
My Grandma's recipe makes about 30-50 pierogies depending on how big you make them and how much of the dough you repurpose as you go along. (The key to making the most out of the dough scraps is covering them so that nothing dries out!) I really love how there's milk, butter and sour cream in the dough recipe - it makes it so much more stretchy and playable compared to a basic flour/water/egg dough mixture.
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This totally looks like a normal fried chicken sandwich but what you can't tell from the photo is that it's not just any old fried chicken sandwich - it's a buttery, garlicky fried chicken sandwich. That's right. I roasted garlic and then mashed and combined that with melted butter in order to create the best non-buffalo tasting fried-chicken sauce I've ever had.
I really wanted to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies the day I invented these pancakes but I was out of brown sugar and v low on chocolate chips so I decided to make pancakes instead. I used cinnamon to give it an extra sweet taste since I originally was craving chocolate.
I know everything is supposed to taste better when it's made from scratch but I love Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. It's just so good and always turns out so fluffy - plus, I use the kind where you have to add eggs and oil so it's not as big of a shortcut as the kind of pancake mixes where you just add water.
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For the pancakes
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I'm sure you guys get it by now. I'm in love with fried chicken. Pretty sure I feel the same way about pasta. There's just soooo many different styles and flavors to choose from but the main ingredient stays the same. Versatile - that's the word I was looking for!!
Anyways, I spent a couple of days frying up different kinds of chicken in my kitchen and I would have to say that my favorite part of chicken fried "Nashville hot chicken" style would be the chicken thigh. You just can't beat that juicy dark meat especially once you've put the time and effort into soaking it in buttermilk for 24 hours.
Let me know if you have any questions below! And as always, the serving size for this recipe is for around 2-4 people. (Two starving people, three normal people, or four people who feel like snacking together.)
Poutine is something that I'll never stop dying over. French fries, gravy and cheese curds. Hot damn.
There's a restaurant in Cleveland called the Greenhouse Tavern and they make a dish real similar to poutine but it has juicy pork belly bits, a fried egg and whole grain mustard on it - it's so good and my version of poutine is totally inspired by it.
I'm REALLY obsessed with tacos al pastor right now. Seeing that I don't have any devices at home that can cook meat on a spit for hours on end, I decided to not try and do that, lol. I seasoned a pork shoulder with the same flavors as tacos al pastor and cooked the meat in a crockpot so that the pork turned into soft and juicy shredded meat.
Also, this is very much a long recipe. The best way to make it not feel like that is to start marinating the pork around dinner time and wake up and get it going in the crockpot in the morning so that it'll be ready by the next day's dinner time. It makes a lot of pork, I'd say to buy enough taco shells for around 6 people. You can refrigerate the leftover meat and it'll stay good for a few days.
What if I told you you didn't have to go to your favorite local chicken wing joint to eat the best boneless wings of your life?? I've tried hundreds of times to make them at home and they've never turned out like how they taste from a restaurant. UNTIL NOW, and guess what? It happened on accident, lol.
I was frying chicken to put on sliders for a recipe that I was working on and the batter turned out not so great. So I dipped the chicken into flour, after dipping it into the batter to see if that would help and I'm so glad I did!!
What You Need
To Make The Batter
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“It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy” is a straight up lie because you can achieve the ultimate cheesiness in under 10 minutes with this recipe. #foolproof
Also, if you want to make this into a baked mac and cheese situation with bread crumbs, just use an additional 1/2 cup of heavy cream in the recipe. Once it's finished, top with a handful of breadcrumbs and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and cook in an oven-safe dish for 15-20 minutes at 400 F. (I like to add more cream to ensure that the pasta doesn't dry out while baking.)
A few notes: You could use milk if you don't have heavy cream since the cornstarch is a thickening agent - the sauce just won't be as luscious from all the fat in the heavy cream! One time I made it with half heavy whipping cream and half 2% milk and it turned out just fine. I also have a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe that's bomb if dairy doesn't suit you. If you can't eat gluten, the sauce is naturally gluten free so just swap out the pasta for your favorite brown rice pasta! Gotta look out for all my homies with food sensitivities or allergies. <3
If you're cooking ahead of time, pour the finished product into an oven safe dish before refrigerating. My favorite way to reheat it is to add a cup of Velveeta cheese cubes to the top and then pour in 1/2 cup of whole milk before warming in an oven for 30 minutes at 300 degrees F. The Velveeta isn't necessary but it just takes everything to another level. I do think that the milk is necessary though because it tends to dry up a little bit when it's been sitting in the fridge.
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Pretty sure pho is famous for it's slow simmered broth but I loooove picking out all of the noodles and spicy jalapeños whenever I'm eating it. A few people replied to my IG story saying it's not pho since I used soy sauce, but I'm allergic to hoisin sauce since there's peanuts in it so I had to improvise. It still has the flavors of pho with the beef broth, lime and ginger that I used and that's good enough for me. Ps, this recipe will serve two people or one VERY hungry person.
So it's not traditional pho, but it's still really phoking good, okay?!
The trip to your local Chinese grocery store is so worth it for these chow mein noodles. You could try to skimp and use spaghetti - but it won't be the same!
Growing up I used to pound my Grandma's cabbage and noodles which consisted of butter, onion, cabbage and egg noodles. This dish is inspired by that but it also has some Asian influence!
Also, yes I am allergic to sesame seeds, but the person I was cooking dinner for isn't so I put them on her dish! :)
Fact: adding cabbage to dumplings makes the filling a whole lot softer. It's less like a dry meatball inside of there and more like a juicy piece of meatloaf. I always get questions about what kind of dumpling wrappers I use and since I'm too lazy to make homemade dumpling dough, I buy gyoza wrappers from a local Chinese grocery store in Cleveland. (Nee How in North Olmsted or any of the grocery stores in Cleveland's Asia Town.)
If you think about it - a dumpling is very similar to certain food from other cultures, like a pierogi or an empanada. Meat or veggies stuffed into dough. I've learned about the common ingredients that are used in Asian cooking from following other food bloggers for years but also even just going out to eat at my favorite Chinese restaurants in Cleveland and seeing what's used in the food I order! So from there, I take what flavors I like and use them in my kitchen. I'm so thankful for Asian cuisine - I seriously cannot get enough of everything dumpling and noodle related.
Ps - if you prefer a slippery dumpling texture instead of the pan fried crisp, you can boil them for about 8 minutes (they should float when they are done.)
I legit never think to buy buttermilk when I'm grocery shopping but I saw it the other day and decided I wanted to try and make some seriously good buttermilk fried chicken. I typically use a salt water and garlic brine but this was SO MUCH BETTER!
I was trying to stop myself from eating the chicken all on it's own after it came out of the hot oil. The seasoned salt is such a clutch ingredient in turning the chicken that really pretty golden color and it smells amazing.
I love fried balls of any sort. Lol.
But for real, goat cheese is the GOAT - and I love arancini so this is sort of like a weird version of that. Also, how good is goat cheese with honey?? The best combo since pb & j.
I used to beg my mom to take me to Cracker Barrel so that I could eat their chicken and dumplings and this is so much god damn better than that. LOL.
It's actually so easy to make dumplings, I was shocked when I started googling to find out how. I used dark meat because I think there's way more flavor and it's way juicer. #teamdarkmeat
I love this recipe, the combination of that extra virgin olive oil + the zesty lemon flavor gives me all the light and crisp flavor feels. Adding more of the olive oil into the bread crumbs and then topping with more lemon zest at the end is what takes this one to another level.
It's no secret that I love making fried chicken of all sorts. I think it might be the only other food that I consistently post about besides pasta, noodles and/or dumplings. I don't own a deep frier so I just use a large pasta pot for frying the wings. (If you're in the same boat, be sure to use a tall enough pot so that the hot oil doesn't splash out.)
I don't have a thermometer to check to see if the oil is hot enough for frying different types of food. I just run my finger tips under the sink faucet and then flick a little tiny bit of water into the pot of oil as it's heating. Once the water reacts and makes a crackling sound, it's hot enough to fry stuff.
This recipe isn't the same without Cleveland's famous Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard. Just sayin'. Go Tribe. For real though, I put this stuff on everything - as I am writing this I'm squirting some out onto crackers that I'm snacking on, lol. The obsession is real. If you're going to use other stuff, dijon is the next best thing.
Fresh lemon juice, wine, garlic, butter, pasta and parmesan. These are a few of my favorite things. The first time I ever had lemon pasta was in Capri, Italy in 2018...and that's what this exact dish is inspired by. Fun fact - I ate it the day after Bryant asked me to marry him so I was on all sorts of highs, lol.
You don't have to use tagliatelle pasta. You can use whatever shape you like, but I think a longer flat noodle tastes the best because that's the way I ate this dish for the first time in Italy. If you can't find tagliatelle, fettuccini or linguine work great too! Make sure you remember to add a little of the starchy pasta water into the sauce. That + butter makes for the ultimate silky pasta.
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I'm obsessed with honey butter fried chicken. That is all.
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Like I said in my IG post, I would probably eat dirt if there was fresh lemon juice squeezed all over it. This recipe is slightly different from my lemon butter pasta recipe, because there's parmesan cheese all up in this sauce.
You can use any kind of noodle, I was in the mood for bowtie on the day I created this recipe. I've been using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic in some of my sauces lately because I feel like you just can't beat the flavor concentration. It's so strong and I don't think that I get the same flavor when I use fresh garlic? Which doesn't seem right, but my tastebuds don't lie.
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I've always wanted to try wonton soup with actual noodles in it, but the traditional way it's served involves a few things I can't eat. cc: shrimp, sesame oil. About a month ago I went out to eat at Saigon on East 4th Street in Downtown Cleveland and had to watch my friend slurp it down from across the table - talk about FOMO. I decided to make my own version, a version that wouldn't kill me.
You'll want to use fresh wonton egg noodles. You can read more about them + see a photo if you click here and check out The Woks of Life's blog. (If you scroll past the wonton noodles on that page, you'll also see the yellow square wonton wrappers that you'll need!) Both can be found at Asian grocery stores - if you're from CLE, I do all my noodle/dumpling shopping at Tink Holl Market in Asia Town.
For the portion sizes, I would say that 1 bundle of wonton noodles + 4-6 wontons and 2 cups of broth equals one serving. That said, this recipe makes enough for two eaters!
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Brielieve it or not, brie is probably the easiest kind of cheese to use for mac and cheese since it's so melty. If you're having trouble scooping it out of the wheel, you can stick it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to loosen up the insides!
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I don't eat a lot of meat with my pasta but this one is great for when I'm craving a lil protein. The sausage pieces shown in this recipe are kinda chunky, but if you want the meat to be smaller - all you have to do is break it apart more while you're cooking it in the skillet.
I really hate portion sizes. I always say it's best to make a lot and then save whatever is leftover/repurpose any extra stuff into another meal. If I had to guess, I'd say the amount listed below in the recipe is enough for three small plates, or two big plates of food. Does anybody even really eat the same amount anyways? Lol.
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Introducing: alfredo sauce's badass older sister. I started things off with a heavy cream base and added in lemon juice/zest, garlic powder and then brie & parmesan cheese. Oh, and white wine because wine and cheese and pasta is everything!
True story, I basically never measure when I cook unless it's something crazy with very specific instructions. The good thing about this recipe, and really most recipes that I make is that they are hard to mess up. Don't be afraid to add in a little more of what you like/don't like. If it tastes too much like one ingredient, add more of the others. Worse comes to worse, you'll have leftover sauce...which means you can make more pasta and eat it all over again the next day. :)
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Bryant and I are still developing the travel guide part of my website but I figured I would share the basics of our Italy adventures since I've gotten so many questions about where we went to eat and what specific Airbnb we stayed at in Positano! Our official travel guide will incorporate way more detail about how we got around, what the people were like and how much money to expect to spend! (Yea, we documented every penny, like absolute freaks.)
We took a private car arranged through our Airbnb host from the Naples airport to our place. Click here to see where we stayed. (This is where Bryant proposed! Full story to come in our more official travel guide!!) Our place was uphill (and if you're looking at a map) west of the main public beach in Positano. There were busses that ran every so often (signs with times at every stop on the main road) and then there was a sort of hidden stairway that you could walk all the way down to where you will find the main public beach area, the ferry ports and restaurants & shops. You could also walk down the main road which leads to an area near the main beach, there are tons of restaurants and shops along the main road.
This is the first place we ate, we wandered a bit down the main road to find lunch. The first thing they brought out to the table was bread and chili oil (LOL) and then olive oil too. I ordered the spaghetti vongole with tomatoes (and by tomatoes, they literally mean 3 cherry tomatoes) and then Bryant had the bolognese. Both were BOMB, because well, it's Italy.
Il Fornillo Ristorante
We went here for dinner on the first night shortly after the engagement! They had cacio e pepe on the menu so naturally, i was like F*CK YES gimme dat. The pasta was a little more al dente than I would prefer but I just got engaged so I basically didn't care at all. Bryant had pizza, he ordered pizza a lot and it was seriously amazing at every single place.
We (or maybe it was just me) were super hungover after the engagement celebrations and wandered down this like 3 mile staircase to the restaurants on the beach. We picked this one because it was under really pretty green vines, there was tons of open air and we saw a plate of calamari walk by that looked divine - it was, we loved it. We shared the ravioli, and we didn't love it.
This place was BEAUTIFUL. To get to it we walked through a little alley way of shops and they had a special truffle pasta special that I will regret not ordering for the rest of my life. It was by far the fanciest/most expensive dinner we had but the atmosphere was really pretty and you could tell it was a classy place. Side note: they offer cooking classes in the morning which was cool too.
Ristorante Il Capitan
This was our last dinner in Positano! (Tears.) It's part of a hotel called Hotel Montemare. It overlooks the water and the beach from up high and it is the perfect place to watch the sunset while you eat. I really wanted to try squid ink pasta while I was in Italy so I ordered it and was super grossed out. It tasted way too fishy for me. So I proceeded to drink a ton of wine and eat all of the amazing pizza that Bryant ordered.
I LOVED CAPRI. Mostly because of the boat ride that we went on which we found through our Airbnb app's "Experience" tab. As soon as we got off the ferry we were hounded by locals trying to get us to sign up for their boat tours, and we saw them while we were on our boat tour. Their boats were bigger and crowded with tons of people holding their phones up in the air trying to take pictures. Our boat was 8 American millennials drinking beer/wine and having a great time. I HIGHLY recommend booking though Airbnb experiences, you will not want to be on the other boats full of tourists. My favorite part was swimming! The water was freezing but also the most clear water I've ever been it. One second I was looking down at fish and the next second I was looking up at mountains covered in green trees with foggy smoke surrounding them. It kind of reminded me of Jurassic Park and I was loving it so much.
The port of Capri is lined with restaurants and we ended up randomly picking this one because they had a lemon pasta on the menu that I really wanted to try. It ended up being one of my favorite dishes of the trip! The lemons and citrus in Italy are so fresh that it takes the flavor of certain dishes to the next level. I was dying over it - so so so good.
We spent the last two days of our trip in this magical place. It was so different from Positano because there were way less tourists, or at least American tourists. The English language was the least common here out of everywhere we went. I mean literally, our Airbnb host was trying to tell us not to leave the windows open when we left because of birds and she flapped her arms like a bird to try and get the point across...I was dying inside. Very nice lady, but the language barrier was real.
Salerno was also very different than Positano because all of the streets besides the main one along the water were tiny little alley ways that twisted and turned throughout the city. Instead of little houses built into cliffs, it was more of a flat landscape with taller buildings. At first it was confusing and intimidating but after we got to our Airbnb we had a nice view of the layout of the city and found out that there was an elevator we could take to the entrance of our Airbnb. At first we were trying to use google maps to find our way and it was not working out so well with all of the little roads.
Ristorante Il Duca
Here's where we went our first night in Salerno! It was in a tiny alley way and we sat three floors up on the roof. It actually overlooked the alley and was a beautiful view. Our waitor didn't understand that we wanted still and not sparkling water, so we were forced to just deal with it, haha. I ordered a bacon and cream sauce pasta - the noodles were super thick and it was real good. Bryant had the gnocchi which was equally as amazing.
Trattoria Pizzeria Zi Renato
So this restaurant was one out of many along the main street in Salerno that was parallel to the ports and water. It was cute with red checkered tablecloths and the service was pretty good. Once again, blown away by the pizza but the pasta was seriously disappointing. I ordered the carbonara and it came out as penne noodles with scrambled eggs and very pathetic bacon. Someone DM'd me and they were like "ordering bad pasta in Italy feels the same as when you find out Santa Claus isn't real" and it was the realest thing anyone has ever said to me!! I was so sad because I even had a shirt that said "I want pasta" and I just so happened to wear it the time that I effed up my order. BOO. There was this place next to it called In Rada, I would try there instead.
Goccia Wine Bar
This place was super funky, but cool. Lots of different looking people. They had cacio e pepe on the menu and I obviously was immediately sold. They brought out a really weird salad with like chopped cabbage and carrots and it smelled weird so we didn't touch it. I may or may not have had too much wine and asked the waiter if he spoke "American," like an idiot. I'll never forget the look on Bryant's face when it slipped out of my mouth, LOL. Okay back to the food, the cacio e pepe was amazing, def enough for two people. It was super al dente and there were bread crumbs on top!
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