Friday, December 24, 2010

Lime Pistachio Cookies

All my gifts are wrapped. My holiday baking is complete. Cards have been delivered and I've decided to let go of any hope of completing my remaining Christmas crafts until next year. My only remaining task is to pack everything into our vehicle so we can share the holiday with my family up island.

I decided to throw in a few non-traditional cookies into my cookie boxes this year. This particular recipe was one of them that went over very well. I have made many a different citrus cookies but this one with the pistachio's is by far my favorite.

The nice thing about making refrigerator cookies is that you can whip up the dough and chill for up to 3 days before baking. Since I stuck to making mostly refrigerator cookies this year I was able to make quite a variety by having 4 different base doughs in my fridge. This concept was outlined in the 2010 December issue of Martha Stewart Living. Once you make up the doughs (vanilla, chocolate, citrus and spice) you divide up the doughs and add ingredients like cherries and pistachios to make "Chocolate Cherry Pistachio" cookies or "Vanilla Chocolate Marble with Crushed Peppermint". There are so many different flavor combination's that I advise you stick to just a few otherwise you will become overwhelmed and find yourself in over your head, which is what you are trying to avoid!

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday's to you all! Remember, calories don't count in December!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chile Cornmeal Crusted Tofu and Mexi Rice

December is a chaotic month. It feels like no matter how soon I start my Christmas shopping, crafting and baking, I am always running behind. Every year I am in this big scramble the week before Christmas and every year I vow to start earlier next year! I don’t know why we do this to ourselves! It’s kind of like we all have this need or desire to create the perfect holiday. From home baking and decorating, to the holiday feast and outdoor lights, we only have one chance every year to wrap up December with a big, beautiful bow and call it Christmas.

So although I continue to cook on a weekly basis, I have been finding it difficult to find the time to photograph and document new recipes. I am being very choosy with the recipes I share with you. This particular dish has the perfect balance of spice paired with a zingy lime flavor. The tofu portion of this recipe is from the Veganomicon cookbook and I still can't believe how well the cornmeal crust turned out. I opted to serve the tofu with a rice dish I created to mirror the flavors of the Veganomicon recipe. You can bump up the spice with a pinch of cayenne or you can leave out the jalapeno pepper if you prefer to keep the spice mild.

Mexi Rice
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a wok or large frying pan, saute onion and green bell pepper in a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil until onion turns translucent. Add garlic and jalapeno and fry for another minute.
  2. Stir in chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, black beans, rice and salsa. Heat through.
  3. Before serving, stir in cilantro, lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

Cozy is the word that comes to mind when I think of this time of year. The shortened days and occasional snow or rain fall entices me to waste little time getting home. All I want to do is snuggle up and be cozy! I don't know what cozy means to you but to me it means wrapping up in warmth both inside and out. A warm blanket and cup of tea come to mind.

I also like this time of year because I feel like I can get away with my second favorite thing...engrossing myself in a good book. I often feel guilty about the amount of time I spend reading. I know I should probably exercise more or at least do something productive! But I just can't help myself. I love, love, love to escape into books. I'm a bit of a type cast when I comes to the bookworm stereotype.

So anyways, back to my number one favorite thing. Since soup is a nice cozy food I find myself making a pot about twice a week these days. I ended up adapting the original recipe to the point that I can proudly and confidently call this recipe my own. I have to say this is one of the most pleasing soups I have had in a long time. The sweet flavor of the roasted red peppers paired with the smokey flavor of the fire roasted tomatoes makes for perfect harmony.

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • one 14 1/2 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • one 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 red bell peppers roasted, skins peeled off and chopped or one 17 ounce jar roasted red peppers
  • 2 cups V8 juice
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat 2 tbsp grapeseed oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, shallot, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the carrots have softened slightly and the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juice, roasted red peppers, and V8 juice; bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, stir in the cream.
  4. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain soup through a fine mesh strainer if you prefer a smoother soup or leave as is for a rustic consistency. Stir in salt and pepper.
  5. Serve with garlic croutons or toasted bread.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Tofu Tahini Patties & Marinara Sauce

Liquid Gold, a.k.a. a rich, buttery, oaky Chardonnay is my wine of choice. I have found it increasingly hard to find a reasonably priced Chardonnay with that particular flavor. So we have resorted to wine making. Of course when I say we  are wine making, I mean we went to a wine making store, picked out a wine that promised our preferred flavor and reported back for bottling 7 weeks later. It's quite a nice surprise when they call to let you know your wine is ready, especially since you have forgotten about it by this time!

I am by no means a wine connoisseur so when I say that I was very surprised by how good our wine turned out, don't think I have a lot of experience under my belt! If you enjoy wine and are looking for a specific flavor for the fraction of the cost of commercially bottled wine this is a good option. The shop we went to even offered to buy a bottle Mike's favorite red wine and specialize a kit to match the flavoring.

I found this recipe in the new Canadian Living cookbook called "The Vegetarian Collection". I have always found Canadian Living to be a good place to find recipes but I must say I am especially impressed by this cookbook. You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these recipes!

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pkg extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground salt & pepper
  • marinara sauce
  1. Halve and seed squash. Bake cut side down on a greased baking sheet in 400° oven until flesh is tender when pierced, about 1 hour. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil in a skillet and fry onion, carrot, garlic, cumin and cayenne, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 mins.
  3. In food processor, puree tofu with tahini. Add onion mixture, parsley, bread crumbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper; pulse to combine. Form into 12 1/2 inch thick patties.
  4. Heat up marinara sauce over medium-low heat (or make from scratch if you don't have some handy).
  5. Heat half of the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; fry half of the patties, turning once, until golden, about 6 minutes. Repeat with remaining oil and patties.
  6. Using a fork, scrape strands into bowl; stir in half each of the salt and pepper. 
  7. Serve patties on top of spaghetti squash and marinara sauce. Garnish with Parmesan or Italian parsley if you are vegan.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three-Cheese Rotollo with White Sauce

I find that the impeding darkness and shortened days draw Mike and I to carbohydrates and hibernation. Now to find a way to avoid making so many cheesy past dishes!

In the meantime here is a super yummy cheesy pasta dish from the October 2010 issue of Canadian Living. I don't believe I made any changes to this recipe. But I would like to recommend some ways to add some extra vitamins to this dish. You could include a layer of pureed pumpkin, squash, chopped steamed broccoli, or wilted and chopped spinach.

Since I started my new job last Monday, I have been adapting to a new routine. I am finding that because I have a longer work day combined with a longer commute (walk) to work, I have less time to cook and even lesser time to blog. In light of these changes in my daily routine I find myself a little more organized by planning meals in advance and leaning on my kitchen co-pilot (Mike). No more lengthy complicated recipes on weekdays! I will have to leave those for the weekends form now one....

One more note before I sign may notice the quality of our pictures go down hill due to the lack of natural light in the Fall and Winter seasons.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

French Macaroons

I have been working towards turning a new leaf in my life these past few weeks. I will be starting a new job this coming Monday and have been experiencing many different emotions surrounding this move. I am excited about my new job and looking forward to the challenge of learning and getting to know new people. But, I will also greatly miss the people I have worked with for the past 2 1/2 years.

To show my appreciation, I decided I was going to make my work friends something special. I came up with this romantic idea to make French Macaroons. I have always admired how beautiful and delicate they look in pictures and have seen them featured many times as a confectionery delicacy. Since I had a pretty good understanding of just how finicky macaroons can be, I decided that I needed to dig up as much helpful information as I could before I actually set to work. I watched a few "how to" videos and read through the instructions from start to finish. I was ready...well at least I thought I was! There is one thing you need to know about pastry chefs... they have amazing arm strength! I on the other hand do not have good arm strength. It doesn't sound that hard to make 60 cookies. But what I overlooked was the fact that 60 cookies is actually 120 cookies sandwiched together with butter cream pipped in between. So really I needed the arm strength to pipe 120 cookies and then pipe butter cream onto 60 of those cookies. This my friends is not an easy task.

One more thing I overlooked was just how long this task would take! I am not kidding when I say I spent a minimum of 4 hours making these cookies. So much for a relaxing Sunday! Anyways, I don't believe I will be making these again. But I am quite proud of my endeavors, and like the fact that I can now say that not only have a made French Macaroons but I can do so again if I so please!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche with Shredded Potatoe Crust

I think the most intriguing concept for this recipe, was the use of shredded potato in place of the traditional pastry crust. I have to admit I had my doubts. I actually completely expected this recipe to fail. But I was delightfully surprised with how the crust held up and how the meal sort of came together.
I skipped a step by pressing the potato mixture into the pie plate and simply baked for 20 minutes instead of cooking in the skillet, 10 minuets each side. I also used 4 eggs instead of 2 eggs and 2 egg whites.

You will definitely need to serve this quiche with something to off set the heaviness of the potatoes. A salad or some steamed veggies would be perfect companions. I had a bowl full of cherry tomatoes so I quartered those and served with some fresh ground sea salt and pepper.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was telling you folks how sick I am of squash! Well now that we are back into squash season I am loving every bit of it! However, I guarantee you my love for squash will dwindle once again, and by Spring I will be happy not to see another winter squash again until Fall!

On a side note to you peps living in Victoria, BC - I hear there is a man driving around personally delivering local squash to the doors of keen squash recipients. What a grand idea! I mean if you are going to stock up on squash for the month of October and Pumpkins for Halloween you ought to be buying them from local farmers and what a better way to ensure the freshest squash then having it hand picked and personally delivered to your doorstep. Assuming that cutting out the middle man might result in a better deal for us consumers. If anyone has any more details on this, please do tell!

So without further delay, I present to you my latest triumph! I hope that you aren't going to make fun of me for making a bundt like Mike has for the past three days. Where did the stigma on bundts come from anyways? I think they look impressive!

A few tips on this recipe - I substituted unsweetened apple sauce for the 3/4 cup vegetable oil and cut down on the sugar by a half cup. I used spiced rum instead of just plain dark rum and found that I was not able to fit all of my batter into my bundt form. Assuming you will need a deep budt pan for this recipe or use caution when filling your pan. One more tip, you will not need to use all of the glaze, only enough to glaze the entire surface of the cake.

I have noticed that the latest health trend is to replace ice cream and whip cream with yogurt krema which is apparently a healthier alternative for dressing up your favorite dessert. I can't actually comment on this because I haven't tried it out yet but I do intend to do so. This time around I served my cake slices with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inside Out Potato & Cabbage Rolls

So the only reason why I am calling this an inside out cabbage roll is because I have posted a similar recipe in the past that uses these exact ingredients except you are stuffing cabbage leaves with potato and serving with tomato sauce. I reversed these steps for a quick meal that didn’t require any bake time.

On a side note I want to mention that although I don’t have cable I have recently been watching the Masterchef series on YouTube . I will summarize in case any of you have never heard of Masterchef before. Basically 50 amateur home cooks with no chef training are picked from thousands of applicants to be part of a competition with one winner who will take home $250,000 along with a cookbook deal. Each episode they eliminate a few people until they are down to the final two and then of course the winner. I like to see the inspiring dishes that these people produce in a very short period of time and with only a few minutes to design recipes based on select ingredients. But I think the drama behind any Gordon Ramsay TV show is completely unnecessary. Which is one of the reasons why I don’t subscribe to cable!

Anyways, the basic idea behind this recipe is to whip up some mashed potatoes (literally!), braise some cabbage and make a quick tomato sauce. Serve them up on a plate and you will basically have what is displayed below. I would like to point out that it tastes better than it looks! Oh, and don't forget to add some Parmesan to the potatoes.

Here is a good tip that I learned in one of my cooking classes at the French Mint….you can keep mashed potatoes warm in a bowl covered with plastic wrap over a slow simmering pot of water. Also, to achieve the perfect mashed potatoes use a ricer. You’re mashed potatoes will often end up with a gummy texture when using a hand held or KitchenAid blender.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cauliflower, Pea and Red Lentil Dahl

Oh Summer where art thou? Must you leave so soon? You leave us with a dreary cloud so full of relentless rain that one can hardly imagine what it was like to have such warmth and cheer that only you can tame.

When the weather changes so does the selection of local produce. I can't say I am one to complain as I find myself looking forward to trying out some of the recipes I have been saving for the change in season. The big bins of colorful squash remind me of the beautiful colors of Autumn leaves. Did I ever tell you that Autumn is my favorite season? I have already expressed how I find peace with rain so you can imagine how I feel about the cozy feeling associated with all things Autumn! There is something about this season that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a scarf and wool jacket and jump into a pile of leaves like we all did growing up! I fondly remember running through groves of Autumn colored trees with my little brother trailing behind; our heads held high as the leaves sailed around us.

Weather aside, what's for dinner? Well since the book I am currently reading is set partially in India (no it's not Eat, Pray, Love...I read that a few weeks ago) and refers to authentic vegetarian curries and dahls I was inspired to cook up a dahl myself. I have included a recipe for the curry powder I whipped up for this dish in an attempt to make this more authentic.

Note: Use the back of a spoon to peel ginger. I learned this nifty trick at a cooking class at the French Mint. Also, be sure to have all your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking!

Curry Powder
  • 1 tbsp corriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cardamon seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
  1. Toast whole spices in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes or until spices become fragrant. 
  2. Pulse toasted seeds in a clean coffee grinder until you have achieved a fine powder.
  3. Pour into a small dish and stir in turmeric.
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • curry powder (use the entire yield from the recipe above)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 kaffir leaves 
  • 1 small cauliflower or half of a medium head, sliced into small florets (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  1. Heat 3 tbsp of peanut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and shallots until tender and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add grated ginger and serrano pepper, and saute for another minute. Add curry powder and garlic and cook for 30 seconds stirring constantly.
  2. Stir in potatoes, broth, lentils and kaffir leaves. Cover pot and raise heat to high, boil for 1 minute. Stir, and lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower, stirring to coat with lentils. Add more water as needed. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Stir in peas and cook for 5 more minutes until cauliflower becomes tender (but not mushy).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime juice and salt to taste.
  5. Serve over brown basmati rice or with a side of naan.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lemon White Chocolate Mousse

There is a magnet on my fridge that reads "Life is short. Eat dessert first." Although I don't usually eat dessert first, I like to live by a similar motto. Balance in my opinion is the key to good health.

I know a lot of people that put themselves through extreme diets only to end up caving in and over indulging in all the forbidden foods. It's no secret that sugar should not be consumed in copious amounts. And it's a good idea to find healthy, natural alternatives for your daily sugar cravings. But I don't see the harm in eating delectable desserts every now and than. In fact, I think it's a joy in life to do so.

So without further ado I present to you yet another heavenly dessert. This one is tricky because it presents itself as light and airy. But is actually very rich and very high in fat. So serve in small dishes!

The pairing of white chocolate and lemon mousse is simply genius. I have made lemon mousse in the past and found it to be too sweet. So this is a perfect way of incorporating the tangy sweetness of lemon with the smooth and soft flavor of white chocolate.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Zucchini and Tomato Puff Pastry Tart

There is a part of me that cringes when I step outside my front door, only to be greeted by the rain. A part of me that wants nothing more then to walk back into the warmth and comfort of my home. But there is another part of me that finds a therapeutic property to rain. This part of me wants to experience the drip, drip, drip of rain falling on every surface I see. Sometimes I think that the only time my mind is ever truly silent is when it is simply listening to the rain. If you can for even a moment stop the noise in your head you will be amazed by how comforting the sound of rain can be. To think that rain is not only nourishing your soul, but that of every living thing in the world around you is both a warm and comforting thought.

This coming from someone who often starts her posts off with a complaint about the weather! I have decided to embrace the changing season by taking some of my favorite summer vegetables and pairing them with puff pastry which is not ideal to bake in hot weather therefore making it perfect for a rainy day such as today!

I have to admit that I sort of cheated on this recipe by not making my own puff pastry. If it weren't a weekday and if I wasn't feeling under the weather I would have attempted it myself. You can manipulate this recipe to incorporate your preferred combination of vegetables and cheese. I think I am going to try a caramelized onion tart next time!

  • I pkg puff pastry
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • fresh ground salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

  2. On a floured work surface, roll out puff pastry into a rectangle 10 by 12 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. 
  3. Spread the Asiago cheese over the surface of the dough. Top with zucchini and tomato slices to within 1 inch of dough edge and finish off with feta, oregano, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pastry turns golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Salad

I apologize for my delayed posting. This month is proving to be a very busy one in our household. When we do have free time I am finding it hard to motivate myself to sit down long enough to organize a post. Mostly the overwhelming hot weather is to blame for this! I hope you are all equally busy with outdoor activities and of course wearing sunscreen! I think I have consumed enough watermelon and summer fruit in the past month to keep a small army out of famine.

In an attempt to keep our little cave (basement suite) nice and cool I have been taking advantage of local greens and produce by making refreshing salads. You don’t need a recipe for salad but it’s always nice to have a base for inspiration. In this instance I found inspiration in a salad from my new WhiteWater Cooks at Home cookbook. I will roughly outline the ingredients required for this recipe and I am sure you can figure out the rest!

  • mixed greens
  • diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • grated beet
  • bocconcini balls, halved or crumbled feta
  • pumpkin seeds (toasted)
  • dill, chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • balsamic oil
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • fresh ground salt & pepper

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baked Tofu Parmigiana

For those of you that have been following my blog since the very beginning you will probably recognize this recipe. As I mentioned a few months ago I am working on updating and improving the pictures and recipes on my blog. So here it is again!

This recipe gets better every time I make it! It's super easy and comes very close to the much loved chicken parmigiana. I fool Mike by serving this slightly different every time I make it. For example you can use different cheeses and serve over rice, pasta or oven toasted  bread. This time around I served over orzo.

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon oregano, salt, and black pepper. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. 
  3. Slice tofu into 1/4 inch thick slices and begin the following process, one piece at a time: coat tofu with flour then dredge in egg and finish by pressing into bread crumb mixture turning to coat all sides.
  4. Cook tofu slices in skillet until brown on both sides. Set finished pieces on plate until all the tofu has been breaded.
  5. Combine tomato sauce, basil, garlic, and remaining oregano. Place a thin layer of sauce in an rectangle baking dish. Arrange tofu slices in the pan. Spoon remaining sauce over tofu. Top with shredded mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.
  6. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta with garlic bread and a side salad.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Stacks

I hope you all had a very restful long weekend. I don't know that I can say that mine was restful but it certainly was productive. Mike and I succeeded in making three batches of jam; blueberry-apricot, raspberry-peach and strawberry-apricot. The first batch proofed to be very stressful as we didn't quite have our bearings yet but by the last batch we could be considered pros!

This is a recipe from the Whitewater cooks at home by Shelley Adams which is a new addition to my cookbook library and probably one of my new favorites. For those of you non-vegetarians you will be happy to know that this cookbook includes lots of yummy looking seafood and meat recipes.

I had the pleasure of being served these delectable treats at a dinner with friends and was so impressed by them that I decided to make them for a potluck I recently attended. Although I can not disclose the full recipe I can give you an idea of what the dish consists of. The basic idea is to stack roasted or grilled vegetables with layers of goat cheese, mozzarella and pesto. Finish off with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a drizzle of balsamic crema. You can make these a day ahead and serve warm by heating them up in a 350° oven for 20 minutes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Berry Layer Cake

Here is a great summer dessert that will put your local berries to good use. The original recipe makes a gigantic 4 layer cake with cream and berries in between. I opted to half the recipe and make individual size cakes as I didn't have a big enough crowd to share this with and we all know that fresh whip cream doesn't last long. You can use a 3" muffin pan which will yield 6 mini cakes.

We enjoyed these mini cakes with my oldest and best friend Kylee on her birthday. Ky and I first met at the tender age of two. Awww! Yes, well Mom say's we were making mud pies together back then and continue to share a love of food to this day. Ky is going to hate this because she is very modest but she just so happens to be the best home cook I know. I think it's because she doesn't follow a recipe and is really good at creating amazing flavor combination's on a whim. She is the only person I know that would prefer to cook on her birthday and that she did!

PS - did I mention she is an electrial engineer? Who say's girls can't be amazing cooks and break down the barriers in a male dominant career? Sorry for boasting Ky, but I'm just so proud of you!

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 large whole eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin (make sure to grease well as sponge cake has a tendency to stick). Sift together flour and corn starch and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until thick and pale (should be able to hold a ribbon-like trail on the surface), about 5 minutes. Add oil in a steady stream, mixing until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold mixture several times.
  3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture. With mixer on low speed, beat until just combined. 
  4. Evenly pour batter into muffin pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, about 17-20 mins.
  5. Immediately invert cakes onto wire rack. Then reinvert cakes, and let them cool completely, top side up.
  6. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine cream, confectioners' sugar, and remaining vanilla extract. Starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high, whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 mins.
  7. Using a serrated knife, cut cakes in half. Place one of the bottom layers on a plate. Spread a few dollops of cream on top and cover with berries. Cover with the top half of the cake and repeat cream and berries. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mikey's Fajitas

I understand that to some cooking and baking is a chore, and although necessary it can be very cumbersome to prepare meals when you have little time to do so. I know that one day I may be faced with the same challenges as a working mother.

However, I think it is possible to change your perspective of cooking and transform it from a chore to an interactive family experience. I think it’s a great opportunity to engage in active family time opposed to inactive family time. I don’t know when family time became TV time but I think my generation and even the generation one step ahead of me has a responsibility to change this. We live in a time where we don’t have to work together to keep a homestead like the pioneers did. But I think we are missing out on a very important communal component living by today’s conveniences (ordering in or picking up food to go). Although necessary at times I think that if you all work together there is no reason why you can’t commit to making dinner as a family a few times a week.

Of course the opposing argument is that it is often faster and easier for the most experienced cook to make a meal without extra hands on deck. Although I agree I am up for the challenge of working and teaching others so that I am not the only one that can whip up dinner every day. We don’t live in the 60’s anymore people and we are not house wives! Why can’t your children help rinse and spin dry lettuce while you chop up the veggies? And why can’t your spouse make the dressing?

This recipe was created by Mike and approved by Lyndsay!

  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 cups white or cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters or 1/8ths if large
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • kernels from one cob of corn
  • 1 carrot – julienned
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (washed and spun dry)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 4-6 tortilla shells
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1.25 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 oz water or more for liquid consistency
  1. Stir together all ingredients for the sauce.
  2. Combine all vegetables in a bowl and stir in the sauce.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add veggies to the pan and sauté until onions turn translucent.
  4. Warm tortillas in oven on LO broil for about 2 minutes each side. Careful not to crisp them.
  5. Assemble fajitas starting with spinach followed by sautéed vegetables and finishing with feta.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lentil and Bulgur Soup

I recently realized that I was a major contributing factor to the rising heat inside our suite. I thought the look on Mike's face when he came home to find me baking bread and making soup would be one of admiration.....but instead I received a look of puzzlement followed by "Hi hun...uh, why are you making soup when it's 30° outside?" Honestly I don't think I ever stopped to think that maybe I should be testing Martha Stewart's summer recipes instead of the fall ones! Either way, I'm going to go ahead and post this recipe from the March 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living with a commitment to finding more recipes that require less heat and more chill!
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper and sea salt
  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook carrot, celery and shallot until tender, about 6 minutes. Add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in bulgur and cook partially covered until bulgur is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve soup with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quinoa and Buckwheat Burritos

If you don’t currently have plans for this upcoming weekend I have a wonderful outdoor proposition for those of you living in or around Victoria, BC. The Organics Island Festival which is apparently Canada’s largest outdoor green festival is being held at Glendale Farms on July 10 and 11th. I’m very excited about the opportunity to sample organic and fair trade food and beverages from over 40 food and drink vendors. Not to mention the large array of vendors providing locally farmed produce and packaged goods. If nothing else it’s a good reason to get outside on a sunny day!

Speaking of is a variation of the Taco Salad I made not too long ago. Simply warm some tortilla shells and fill with a few spoonfuls of quinoa-buckwheat mixture and your preferred veggies and cheese. Roll up and serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

Note: Omit the cheese to make this recipe vegan.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rice noodles with Coconut Curry Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower

Home sweet home! Hope you all enjoyed your Canada Day festivities or at least the day off.... We walked to the inner harbor last night to see the fireworks. One thing I love about living so close to downtown is being able to arrive at the last minute and completely avoid the whole parking frenzy. I think I can count on one hand all the times I have had to park in downtown Victoria since I moved here 5 years ago.

Seattle was a lot of fun. The market was beautiful with all the local produce and fresh cut flowers. I will point out a few very important things that friends and family forgot to mention when filling me in on their own Seattle trips. Hills... lots of them. For two people who are used to walking everywhere in Victoria we were completely uninformed of the mountain we would have to climb to get to our hotel! The high rises appear monstrous from sea level - partly because they are and partly because they are at the top of a mountain (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit)! Secondly, Seattle is not in fact sleepless. By the time we arrived on Sunday everything was closed! I was also surprised at how few restaurants were open late for those people looking for a late meal. Lastly, wine is cheaper then juice and bottled water!

Mike and I ventured out of Belltown for 30 minutes up hill so I could see what Trader Joe's was all about. I believe Mike was being strategic by not telling me just how far it was and refusing to answer to my whiny "are we there yet?" and instead distracting me with delicious homemade ice cream in a freshly made waffle cone. It was all worth it in the end. Trader Joe's is everything that my fellow food bloggers hype it up to be. It sure is nice to own a bottle of "real" balsamic vinegar that doesn't run the same price as a bottle of wine. The concept of a store selling mostly organic products without the hefty additional fees is absolutely genius.

Anyways, I'm glad to be back home cooking again. I was about ready to ask the chef in our last restaurant if I could help chop some vegetables! Here is a very, very easy recipe to whip up when you have nothing in your fridge. I sort of made this recipe up on the fly so you should alter it as you see fit. Also you can use any roasted vegetable you like or not at all.

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp curry paste (or more until you reach desired taste)
  • 3 keffir leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • rice noodles
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange cauliflower florets on a baking dish and drizzle with about 1-2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and salt. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes.
  2. When cauliflower has baked for about 20 minutes, begin your sauce by heating up a medium sauce pan with 1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil. Stir mustard seeds into the oil and let them cook until they begin to pop. Add the onion and cook until they begin to turn translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for one more minute. Pour in coconut milk, tomato sauce, sugar, curry paste and keffir leaves. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add water if sauce becomes too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Serve over a bed of rice noodles and roasted cauliflower and top with cilantro. You could also squeeze some lemon juice over top to cut down on the acidity of the tomato sauce. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Well friends this week has come and gone and Summer is actually showing her true colors! And so am I! I have never been so happy to pull out my bright and colorful summer wardrobe. I know there will still be cloudy days and the occasional rain but I can live with that as long as the warmth keeps up!

Mike and I are Seattle bound tomorrow morning. We plan to do the tourist thing for 4 days and are especially looking forward to some great cuisine and of course Trader Joes. If any of you have any recommendations please do share! I am currently having a pep talk with Kobi the cat to ensure she is on her best behavior for her babysitter. I am getting a lot of back talk though so I'm not entirely convinced.

I'm leaving you with a classic falafel recipe that I think you will all have fun with. And I think the word fun can be applied to more than one part of the falafel experience. Fun as in you can dress it up any way you like. You can use them in a salad or roll them up in a pita. But it doesn't seem to matter how you do it, falafels are messy! This is not polite food people! You are going to get your hands dirty whether you like it or not. It is inevitable that your pita will split and your beautiful master piece will slowly slide out the back door and onto your plate and all over your fingers! My only advice to you is to embrace it. This is not in any way a sign that you have failed to pull off a perfect falafel. And it is in no way different then having your burger slide out of your bun! It simply can not be helped.

I like falafels with tzatziki but this time around we tried out a miso dressing that was equally as satisfying.

  • 1/4 cup bulgur
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • a pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 19oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 egg
  1. Spread bulgur, coriander and cumin seeds on a baking sheet and roast for 5 mins (or until golden brown) in a 350° oven. Cool and grind thoroughly in a clean coffee grinder. You could also use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat grapeseed oil in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and remaining spices and sauté for a few more minutes.
  3. Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth and sticky.
  4. Shape into 1.5" patties and cook in a greased skillet over medium-high heat about 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Transfer cooked patties to an oven set at 200° to keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Note: You can top your falafels with a large array of vegetables such as shredded carrot, beet, diced cucumbers or peppers, lettuce, spinach or sprouts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Raspberry Sorbet

Summer....has finally arrived! Today was not exactly the model summer solstice day as it was a bit gray and not so summer like. However, I am looking forward to the smattering of summer days coming our way in the next few months. I got so excited about the prospect of summer that I took it upon myself to open up all the windows in our suite to air out the winter/spring congestion. I'm afraid by doing so I may have negatively contributed to Mike's hay fever. Sorry honey!

Speaking of summer, have you seen all the beautiful local berries that are beginning to appear at the farmers markets? I’m afraid my list of fruit dishes and desserts to try is becoming a bit ambitious! I find inspiration for cooking everywhere but there is something overwhelming about summer produce. It’s just too hard to pass up!

This particular dessert is very easy and light compared to traditional desserts. You could easily make it with whatever berries or soft fruit you have on hand. Peaches and blackberries come to mind when I think of a nice variation.

Recipe featured in the July 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Recipes yields 4 servings.

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups fresh or 300g frozen raspberries
  1. Stir together water and 1/4 cup sugar until sugar dissolves.
  2. Pulse raspberries in a food processor until coarsley chopped. With machine running, pour in sugar-water; pulse until mixture is smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spaghetti with Eggplant Sauce

There are very few things that we ourselves can control in our lives. You can complain about the nagging things in your life, like the pot hole at the end of your street or rain during your week off. A traffic accident when you're already late or a group of over friendly seagulls that have taken it upon themselves to serenade you when you want nothing more than you're precious allotted sleep! I could go on but I won't because I'm starting to sound like an Alanis Morissette song!

It's not so bad really. I mean for all the things we can't control we always find a way around them. And when it all comes down to it we have the reins on some of the things that matter most in our lives. Like food. Without it we would no survive. Which is why we are lucky to live in a country with an overwhelming array of food choices. We have no excuse for not eating healthy wholesome foods. What you put into your body is one of the most important things you can control in your life.

It's easier then you think to turn a much loved dish into a healthy dish. Especially if you try to keep your processed foods to a minimum and cook with as much fresh, local and organic produce as possible. Little things like using whole wheat or brown rice pasta instead of white flour pasta and adding fresh chopped spinach before serving with a side of salad instead of bread. You will find yourself missing your bread and white pasta for the first while but will quickly adjust and possibly even acquire a taste for your new substitutes. Plus think of all the benefits you gain from the vitamin rich foods you are now consuming on a regular basis.

Spaghetti is a staple in our household. We quickly learned that it is not only very easy to omit meat in pasta dishes but quite satisfying to discover a whole new palate of wonderful flavors that were previously masked by the overpowering flavor of meat. Vegetables offer so many sweet and savory flavors that can easily be altered by different cooking methods. For this dish I simply made a quick marinara sauce combined with my eggplant meatball recipe without forming the meatballs as I wanted a ground meat texture. I also roasted the eggplant instead of sauteing as I wanted a hands free method of cooking the eggplant while I whipped up my marinara sauce. I served this dish over a bed of whole wheat spaghetti and chopped spinach topped with sauteed corn and shallots with a sprinkling of smoked Gouda. I used fresh corn instead of frozen because it's currently in season. Simply shred off the kernels using a large knife cutting in a downward motion.

Note: The first corn of the season is almost always the sweetest!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lentil Salad with Mint, Roasted Peppers and Feta Cheese

Deborah Madison is like the Julia Child of vegetarian cooking. Her methods are tried tested and true. I can say from experience that they are also thoroughly flavorful. With that said, I would like to caution the importance of reading through her cooking methods. I for one used to skim through her recipes often skipping important steps that I thought to be tedious and unnecessary. As I become a more experienced cook I can see that by leaving out important flavors and bypassing steps I was depriving my dish from it's true potential. Now that I am coming back to some of these recipes and trying them again without skipping steps or leaving out ingredients, I have noticed quite a difference in the finished product.

This salad would not have such a rich flavor if you didn't roast the peppers or use fresh mint. It is also important to use French lentils as they hold their shape without becoming mushy. I served this salad with honey mustard glazed tofu but I think it would also be nice served with roasted vegetables or poached eggs served on toasted bread.

You can find this recipe in The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison or via a Google search.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Leek Soup

It's amazing how quickly a good day can turn into a bad day. Sometimes it's the little things that make for a bad day. Like misplacing your keys or forgetting your lunch at home. Today it was the news that our new Subaru had been victim to a hit and run. Once I get over the shock that our four day old car is no longer the beautiful shiny car we couldn't wait to call our own, and realize that these things not only happen but they can happen to you. I think I will be thankful that no one was hurt and that it is just a car which can be fixed. And as I listened to the many similar experiences around my office I realized that this is all part of growing up!

I initially felt like sulking this evening instead of making dinner. Then my tummy started to grumble and I realized my time was better spent making something comforting to eat, while taking advantage of the therapeutic benefits of doing something you love.

Since I have my homemade vegetable stock on hand and couldn't resist buying an armful of local leeks (which were awkwardly taking up space in my already cramped fridge) I decided to put some of my new soup making skills to the test and whip up a pot of leek soup!

I must take a moment to enlighten those of you that don't already know this little secret. In order to obtain a very smooth melt in your mouth consistency for cream soups you must strain the entire finished product through a sieve. Thus, resulting in a beautiful creamy soup that will instantly turn you into a soup snob!

  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced thin (about 6 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 4-inch sprig fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in sliced leeks, onion and 1 tsp kosher salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often until leeks and onions are soft about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to high, stir in vegetable stock, potato, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatos are tender about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig. Puree soup in two batches in a blender or food processor, or in the pot using an immersion blender. Return pureed soup to dutch oven. 
  4. Strain soup through a fine mesh sieve into another pot using the back of a ladle to push any liquid through. Compost the remaining pulp. Bring the strained soup to a simmer. Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Garnish, if desired, with chopped chives, scallions or croutons. I reserved some leeks to sauté for my garnish.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vegetable Stock

I feel as if this week just slipped by without my even noticing. I regret to admit that I did not get around to much cooking this week. I did however get my fill of chocolate cake and fruit flan thanks to Mike and the girls at work! I am now one year older and probably one pound heavier! On top of all the birthday fun this week I also took one giant step into adulthood and traded in my peppy sports car for a more practical Subaru Outback. Funny how life changes when you least expect it. One day your thinking "I wouldn't be caught dead driving a station wagon" and the next your jumping at the chance to get rid of your 2 door coupe!

I have learned so many new and enlightening skills over the past few weeks that I feel the need to improve quite a few of my recipes. With that said, you may notice some of my recipes disappearing. I will be working on re-posting these with new and improved techniques and ingredients.

First on my cooking improvement list is to stop following recipes step by step and begin to taste for balance and use my own intuition to tell me what I need to add next. I am going to start at the beginning and learn the fundamentals and commit to applying these to every dish I make from here on out! Well, at least I'm going to try.

I woke up this morning eager to find inspiration for today's dinner. This involved a trip to the produce market which is not unusual for a Sunday morning. This time around I decided to leave my shopping list behind. In order to find balance in my cooking I need to start off with only the freshest ingredients, buying what looks appealing instead of what is on my shopping list. Today I shopped based on what was in season and fresh!

Today I am making vegetable stock. Partly because its Sunday and I have the time to do so and partly because I recently learned the importance of using real stock in my fundamentals cooking class at the French Mint. This is one of the improved ingredients you will notice in my recipes from now on.

You really don't need a recipe to make vegetable stock. However, I have roughly outline one you can use as a base. 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 cup leek greens, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
  • 1 cup squash, cubed
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme or 6 branche
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 handfuls lovage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 8 branches parsley, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 8 cups cold water
  1. Heat butter in a large pot, add vegetables, herbs, garlic and nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup  water, and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Pour in 8 cups of water, bring to a boil; then simmer partially covered for 40 minutes.
  2. Pour stock through a sieve and press out as much liquid as possible. Add salt to taste. Use immediately or store in refrigerator for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Note:  Keep odds and ends of vegetables in your freezer until you are ready to make stock. For example I made leek soup last week so I kept the ends of my leeks for stock.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yellow Split Pea Dhal

As an aspiring home cook I am yet to learn the secret to a really good curry. I can admit without shame that all my curries not only taste the same (inspite of using different spices) but tend to lean to the bland side of the flavor scale. I am beginning to learn the importance of knowing the fundamentals of cooking and how the in-between steps are what makes for a truly mouth watering, full flavor meal.

Unlike many hobbies or tasks we perform on a daily basis cooking is one of the few that enables you to actively appreciate every step of the way. You have the opportunity to engage in all the human senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Next time you are cooking try to engage each one of these senses and you will begin to notice all the beautiful colors and wonderful aromas. Most importantly you will learn to cook by taste and not by measurement. I believe this is where I fall short. A good home cook does not need to follow a recipe but instead uses it as inspiration, while allowing the senses to tell you what you need to do next.

I am constantly fascinated by some of the cooking tips and techniques I learn from cook books and more recently from my fundamental cooking classes at the French Mint - which I highly recommend. I have never given my spice shelf much thought other than to take note of which ones are running low. So here is a tip that might inspire all of you to label and replace old spices in hopes of a simple improvement in the flavor of your cooking. Always store your spices in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place. Also, you will want to label your spice containers with the date they were opened or filled with fresh spices, as the recommended lifespan is 6 months for ground or flaked spices and 12 months for whole spices.

As most of you know, curry powder is a blend of many different spices and can be made easily at home. In fact you can be assured that your home made blend of curry powder will have more flavor then the store bought variety as you will know your spices are not only fresh but quality. I have outlined a recipe for curry powder that you can use as a base in developing your own preferred curry blend.

Final tips in closing; let your taste buds help you to develop your curry (always keep a taste spoon near by). Be patient and let the flavors mingle; curry is always most flavorful on the second day. And last but not least, take the time to enjoy the delicious aroma wafting through your kitchen.

Curry Powder
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chiles, broken in pieces, seeds discarded
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  1. Toast the whole spices and the chiles in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan often to prevent burning. Toast for a couple of minutes until the spices smell fragrant. 
  2. In a clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together to a fine powder. Add the turmeric and give it another quick buzz to combine. Use the spice blend immediately, or store in a sealed jar for as long as 1 month. (Yield: about 1/2 cup) 
Yellow Split Pea Dhal

Note: I soaked my split peas for 8 hours prior to cooking.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pecan Logs

Your not living if your not indulging in the odd treat now and then! Of course it helps to have friends to share these treats with, as we all know how easy it can be to overindulge.

If you like pecans you will surely love these cookies. I am a little mystified as to how Martha managed to get all the pecans to form such a nice crust as most of mine just fell off. And yes, I did press them in! My only thought is that maybe my pecans were too coarse. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Roasted Portobello and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula Pesto

TGIF! I'm feeling a little giddy, not just because I'm on my second glass of wine but because Friday is my all time favorite day of the week! There is the wonderful feeling of freedom and the potential for two full days of me time. The possibilities are endless apart from those necessary commitments such as laundry and grocery shopping. At least I enjoy the latter!

This weekend I start my first of five fundamental cooking classes. I will be learning proper knife skills which I'm sure will greatly improve my amateur cooking skills and at the very least teach me how to sharpen my knives!

So enough about me. Whats for dinner? I am sure I have mentioned at least once before, I am a bit of a traditionalists when it comes to Friday. I tend to opt for easy finger food such as pizza and burgers. This time around pizza was on the menu and local arugula was in my fridge from my last market trip.

I have been waiting for the perfect moment to bust out an arugula pesto recipe. For those of you that have never tried arugula before it has a very fresh peppery taste to it. I quite like it, but I bet there are quite a few people that would much prefer traditional basil or sun dried tomato pesto (either would work for this recipe). We had an unfortunate mishap with the pizza dough so the crust you see pictured is just a store bought shell. This recipe yields two pizzas.

Arugula Pesto
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 4 cups arugula, heavy stems removed
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • Dough for two medium pizzas (I use my bread machine to make dough)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 3-4 vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 large or 6 medium sized portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 cups cheese (I used Mozzarella and Asiago)
  1. To make pesto throw all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Season with freshly ground sea salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. 
  3. In a medium frying pan heat up 1.5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When oil is nice and hot add onions (should sizzle). Stir so all onions are coated with oil. Cover with lid and lower heat slightly. Cook until onions become very soft and turn caramel color, about 20-30 minutes. 
  4. While onions are cooking, spread tomatoes out on a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic and freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until wrinkly and soft. The aroma will be amazing!
  5. In a large frying pan heat up 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat (8 on my dial) add portobello mushrooms and allow them to fry until their juices are released. Squeeze 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice over mushrooms and stir with a pinch of freshly ground sea salt and pepper.
  6. Raise oven temperature to 500°.
  7. Roll pizza dough into two medium size crusts. Smear both with generous amount of pesto and top with tomatoes, onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until crust begins to brown.
Note: If using a pizza stone you will need to allow the oven to cool before placing stone in oven and heating up to 500°. If you add a cold pizza stone to a hot oven you risk cracking or shattering your stone. Also this method will allow the stone to distribute heat evenly.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tortilla Soup

If you haven't made tortilla chips before, do so now! They are easy to make and look really impressive in Mexican soups. Mike liked them so much I had to hide them so he didn't eat them all before the soup was ready!

You don't need to follow a recipe to make this soup, in fact I urge that you don't. I think you need to taste as you go along so you don't end up with a soup that is too spicy or too bland. If you like your soup more brothy add more stock. If you like it thicker add less. You can add bell peppers, corn or black beans just to name a few extra ingredients. You can make this soup vegan by omitting the cheese and sour cream and if you are a carnivore you can add bits of rotisserie chicken.

Tortilla Chips
  • 4 tortillas, julienned
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-3 (depending on your spice preference) fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 2-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 lime juiced (or more to taste)
  • 1 28 oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tbsp goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  1. To make tortilla chips; preheat oven to 400°, arrange tortilla strips on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes (or until brown and crispy). Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno and sauté 7 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute more.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover, and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lime and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place sliced avocado into bowls and ladle soup over top.
  5. Combine goat cheese and yogurt in small bowl. Swirl goat cheese mixture into each serving and top with crispy tortilla strips.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kale Chips

These are so cool! They are crunchy, tasty and so addicting. I don't think I'm alone when it comes to craving salty potato chips. Now there is a guilt free way to enjoy chips and sneak in some really awesome nutrients thanks to Kale's super food complex! Watch the video twice and you will be making these in your sleep.

Laurene, many thanks for introducing these to me!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eggs, Asparagus and Truffled Hash Browns

When there is nothing but asparagus and eggs in your fridge and a few straggler potatoes in your pantry. When it's Friday night and your exhausted from a week of work. There is a movie you've been waiting all week to see and you finally don't have to get up at the crack of dawn. And, when you are so hungry you're pretty sure your stomach is eating itself...well that might be exaggerating a bit. But what I'm trying to lead up to is the breakfast for dinner phenomenon. It's simply genius. I have to admit that I indulge in breakfast for dinner on a bi-monthly basis. It's quick, easy and so very satisfying!

This doesn't really require a recipe, but for inspiration sake I will roughly outline the instructions to serve two people.
  • 1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
  • 2 large russet potatoes, washed and diced into small cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1.5 tsp truffle oil
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2-3 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a medium size bowl stir together diced potatoes, truffle oil, 1 tsp olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread on to a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Meanwhile prepare your asparagus by spreading out on another baking dish. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven below potatoes for the last 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare your eggs any way you like. Serve over asparagus sprinkled with shavings of Parmesan or Asiago cheese with a side of hash browns.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hazlenut and Bulgar Stuffed Onions

I was intrigued by how impressive these stuffed onions looked in the magazine. However; I was not partial to the flavor combination. I found the allspice and cinnamon to be a very odd. I think if I were to make these again I would use a different flavor combination.

Recipe from Homemakers: November 2009 issue
  • 6 large sweet onions
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup bulgar
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 clover garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Peel onions, leaving root end intact, cut off top 1 cm of each onion. With a slender knife and teaspoon, cut and scoop out all but last two layers of onion. Place onions, root ends down, into oiled baking dish.
  2. Chop scooped-out onion. Heat up a 1/4 cup of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Fry onion with a 1/2 tsp fresh ground sea salt, stirring often until golden brown about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pour 1/3 cup boiling water over bulgur; cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.
  4. Spread hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in 325° oven until lightly toasted, about 10-15 minutes. Place in kitchen towel and rub off as much of the skins as possible. In food processor, pulse until finely chopped. Add hazelnuts, parsley, raisins, bulgar and a pinch of salt.
  5. When onion is golden brown, stir in allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, pepper and garlic; fry stiring, for 1 minute. Scrape into bulgar mixture. Add half of the lemon juice and mix well.
  6. Stuff onion shells with bulgar mixture. Pour remaining lemon juice and olive oil around onions; cover loosely with foil. Bake in 375° oven until tender, about 90 minutes. Uncover and baste with pan juice. Continue baking for another 15 minutes until tops are lightly browned.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eggplant Balls with Coconut Curry Sauce

I just spent the last 10 minutes running around the backyard picking up the contents from our recycling bins... no thanks to the current "windy" weather outside. How nice it is to come inside and curl up with a nice cup of tea and jot down my latest kitchen adventure!

Eggplant, oh how I love to cook with eggplant! I must recommend that you try these eggplant balls with the coconut curry sauce from my vegan dosas recipe. I did, and they were great!

My suspicion is that these would also make really great appetizers as suggested by Trudy (Veggie Num Nums). Until next time!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Borscht was the first thing that came to mind when I opened my fridge and realized I had nothing but cabbage, beets and a few potatoes. I should also mention the intimidating wind storm that was taking place outside the comfort of my home. To say the least, I was was not in an way motivated to go grocery shopping.

I used to find the idea of beets and cabbage in a soup absolutely horrific. Of course this was before I actually appreciated food and before I even tried it out. I think what makes this soup such a treat is the perfect combination of sweetness from the beets and tartness from the lemons and balsamic vinegar, resulting in a very unique but smooth flavor. This soup is also great for those of you on a budget!
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded (I used green cabbage)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small potatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 398ml can Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large beets, diced
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried dill (use 2 tbsp fresh dill if you have it)
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper
  1. Heat butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add cabbage, celery, carrots, garlic, onion and potatoes. Stir in 1 tsp fresh ground sea salt and bay leaves. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. 
  2. Add tomatoes, beets, 6 cups vegetable stock (or more if you prefer) and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes.
  3. Before serving, stir in lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, dill, freshly cracked pepper and sea salt. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Note:  You can make this recipe vegan by using olive oil instead of butter and serving without the sour cream.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sloppy Moes

Who needs ground beef when red lentils yield the same consistency and meaty flavor? It's an added bonus that lentils are packed with so many good nutrients. Another added benefit to cooking with lentils opposed to ground beef is the low cost.

I give this recipe two thumbs way up. I believe I may have even hooked a few people in my lunch room when heating up my lunch the following day. I let them guess for awhile before I finally revealed that I was heating up vegetarian sloppy joes or as I am calling them sloppy moes! Eating healthy does not mean forfeiting your favorite childhood dinners. Before you leave this page, please put this recipe on next weeks dinner menu. You can thank me later!

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1(8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup assorted cooked beans
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 6 slices crusty bread or kaiser rolls sliced in half
  1. Bring 3 cups water to boil. Add lentils and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. While lentils are cooking heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions and celery until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and saute for another minute.
  3. Stir in cooked lentils, chili powder, oregano and some fresh ground sea salt. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and beans. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in maple syrup and mustard and season with fresh ground pepper.
  5. Serve over toasted bread.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Greek Salad Cucumber Bites

    Looking for an easy and impressive appetizer? This is it! You can even make them ahead of time as there is no cooking involved with this recipe. Simply prepare and serve.

    I like cucumbers because you can easily find local varieties at most grocery stores. This time around I found long English cucumbers grown in my hometown - Port Alberni, BC.

    This recipe is from the January 2009 issue of Canadian Living.

    • 2 English cucumbers
    • 1/2 cup each finely diced sweet red and green pepper
    • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
    • 1/4 cup finely diced black olives
    • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
    • pinch each salt and pepper
    1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off strips of cucumber skin lengthwise. Cut cucumbers crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop out about 1 tsp (5 mL) pulp from centre of each slice, leaving base intact. 
    2. Combine and stir together all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
    3. Scoop a heaping tablespoon into each cucumber slice.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

    I must confess that I really look forward to celebrating birthday's other than my own. It gives me a really good excuse to work on my dessert skills and to try out new recipes. It's flattering to be asked to make a birthday cake because I know there are many beautiful skilled bakery's in this city and many different ways that a rookie like me can slip up on the special someones birthday cake. There is a moment when excepting the offer that I temporarily reflect on the extreme pressure of presenting a cake to a room full of people, not knowing whether or not it turned out okay. Once I get over that I simply feel excitement, because the thrill of having a cake turn out and exceeding your own expectations is always worth it in the end!

    The trick to a perfect birthday cake is not so much in the skill but in pin pointing the right cake for your recipient. Everyone has a favorite dessert but this can be tricky because it's likely they have tried that particular dessert many times and are partial to it's perfection. I like to step back from that as I don't want to disappoint by trying to perfect something that I have simply never done before. Instead, I go with my gut and stay true to favorite flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, berries, coconut, hazelnut, lemon etc. Sometimes I simply don't know and base my decision on memory and with the help of those closest to them.

    This was the first recipe I recovered when searching for the perfect cake for Rachel's Birthday and it turned out to be a really great recipe too! I had been asked in advance to make this cake but didn't actually get the message until the day of. I have to admit that I was in a bit of a panic and was a bit limited in what I could throw together in such a short time frame.

    There is a trick to making cheesecake and that is the method in which you cool the cake down. If you simply remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool the cake will go into shock and begin to crack. To avoid this you need to bake the cake at a higher temp for a set time then reduce to a much lower temp and cook for a longer period of time. Sometimes you can even turn off the oven and leave the cake in for an hour letting it slowly cool down before removing and setting on a cooling rack for yet another hour or two before refrigerating for a minimum of four hours. Always look for cheesecake recipes that outline this cooking method.

    My favorite part of this cake is the raspberry coulis. If you take on the task of making this cake, keep in mind that straining the juices from the raspberries is very tedious but every bit worth it in the end. Make sure to serve the cheesecake with the coulis drizzled over top!

    Note: You can alter this recipe by using different fruits such as peaches, strawberries, blackberries or blueberries.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Taco Salad

    I haven't bothered trying to make taco salad since I became a vegetarian. I just figured there was no way to substitute the ground beef without altering the satisfactory taste and texture. By luck I recently found this great recipe from Chez Cayenne that cooks up a really great substitute for beef outlined below. You can also use this mixture in burritos and tacos which I have also cooked up with mouth watering success!

    • 1/2 cup quinoa
    • 1/4 cup buckwheat
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 batch of taco seasoning (recipe also found on Chez Cayenne)
    • 1 cup black beans
    • 1/2 cup water
    Salad Ingredients
    • shredded lettuce
    • tomato, diced
    • avocado, diced (optional)
    • green onions, diced
    • tortilla chips, crushed
    • shredded cheddar cheese
    • sour cream
    1. In a medium saucepan combine quinoa, buckwheat and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover with lid and cook for 15 minutes.
    2. Once water is absorbed, uncover and stir in black beans, taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
    3. Prepare salads by layering lettuce, diced vegetables, quinoa mixture, crushed tortilla chips and finish with cheese and sour cream.
    Note:  You can alter this salad by using different veggies such as corn, peppers, olives, shredded carrot or jicama or by using different beans or types of lettuce. This salad would also be great with salsa or guacamole.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Smoked Gouda and Pea Shoot Sandwich

    There is something so comforting about a grilled cheese sandwich, I mean whats not to like about melted cheese on toasted bread! It's hardly necessary to draft up a recipe for a sandwich but always nice to have ideas... so here is another one of mine!

    • 2 slices cranberry multi-grain bread
    • smoked Gouda
    • pea shoots
    • avocado
    • ranch dressing
    1. Preheat frying pan to medium-high heat.
    2. Spread dressing on both slices of bread. Stack cheese on one slice of bread followed by avocado cover with second slice of bread.
    3. Place sandwich in frying pan and cook until golden brown on each side (cheese should also be melted).
    4. Stuff with pea shoots, cut in half and enjoy!

      Tuesday, March 30, 2010

      Spinach and Tempeh Lasagna

      I really liked the texture of this lasagna and the unique flavor of the Swiss cheese and fresh basil. I wouldn't recommend trying to make this recipe without a food processor or blender as you would probably loose the great texture. So far this is my favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe, which I will for sure be making again.

      Recipe was adapted from Vegetarian Times - January 2008 issue.
      • 1 medium onion, quartered
      • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
      • 1 tbsp dried oregano
      • 3 cloves garlic, peeled (reserve 1 tsp)
      • 1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, cut into chunks
      • 1 28-oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
      • salt and pepper (freshly ground)
      • 2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen spinach, thawed and drained 
      • 8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
      • 1 16-oz. jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
      • 1 16-oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese, divided
      • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese, divided
      1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Salt and add lasagna noodles. Cook according to package directions. Strain and set aside.
      2. Preheat oven to 375°.
      3. Place onion, basil, oregano, and 2 whole garlic cloves in food processor; pulse 6 times, or until onion and garlic are chopped. Add tempeh, and pulse until tempeh is ground. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper; pulse until chunky sauce forms.
      4. Mince the remaining clove of garlic and combine with spinach.
      5. Grease a 9x13" baking dish. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over bottom, and cover with 4 lasagna noodles. Spread 1/2 spinach mixture over top. Layer 1/2 of the roasted red peppers over spinach, and top with 1 cup ricotta and 1/3 cup Swiss Cheese. Finish with 1 cup tomato sauce. Repeat, layering the remaining 4 noodles, spinach, peppers, ricotta, 1/3 cup Swiss cheese, and remaining tomato sauce. Top with last 1/3 cup Swiss cheese.
      6. Cover with tin foil and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove tin foil, increase heat to 400° and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes.

      Sunday, March 28, 2010

      Zucchini and Corn Quinoa Taco Salad

      I served this salad in a rush as we had to be somewhere in a timely manner and it turned we came up with a great way to eat this dish. We whipped up the salad and served it as more of a spread for tortilla chips and couldn't believe how much we enjoyed it. We quickly decided this would be great served as an appetizer at a dinner party or as a nutritious snack on movie night! Kinda like serving a bean dip or salsa with tortilla chips.

      I didn't have cotija cheese so I used feta instead. The taco seasoning for this recipe is fantastic, I highly recommend using it when cooking other recipes that call for taco seasoning. I used whatever chili powder I had around the house and not the toasted, ground chilies as recommended.... I would assume it would be that much better if I did!

      Wednesday, March 24, 2010

      Thai Curry Tofu Bowl

      Mike pulled off this recipe a few weeks ago when I was out getting my hair cut. I was not only impressed by his effort but by how amazing this dish turned out. I have been disappointed by many curries that are mediocre in flavor with boring ingredients - but this one is neither! I think it would be possible to serve this curry over rice but I personally prefer this served as a stew.

      Don't cut any corners with this recipe, especially the roasting of the sweet potato and tofu!

      Sunday, March 21, 2010

      Asparagus and Asagio Canapés

      These make great appetizers that you can serve hot or cold. In my case I served them cold for a St. Patrick's day potluck. These turned out great and I will definitely be making them again!

      • 3 sheets phyllo pastry
      • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1/4 cup Asagio cheese, finely grated
      • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed
      • freshly ground salt & pepper
      1. Preheat oven to 425°.
      2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it aside.
      3. Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately strain and place asparagus into ice water.
      4. Brush one sheet of phyllo pastry with olive oil and top with second sheet of phyllo pastry; repeat until all three sheets are sandwiched together. Turn over and brush outside with olive oil and sprinkle with 3 tbsp Asagio cheese. 
      5. Cut pastry into 3 x 4 so you have 12 sections. Place an asparagus spear at the beginning of one square and roll till end and place seam down on baking sheet. Repeat until all 12 canapés are ready to bake. 
      6. Sprinkle canapés with remaining cheese and season with salt and pepper.
      7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

      Wednesday, March 17, 2010

      Vegetarian Chilli

      I adapted this recipe two years ago by omitting the ground beef and substituting with another can of beans. I have made many different chilies but this one hits the spot every time! A very easy recipe to double with increasingly better flavor the following day - so definitely reheat for lunch and always serve with crusty bread or tortilla chips!

      • 1 onion, diced
      • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
      • 2 carrots, diced
      • 2 stalks celery, diced
      • 4 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 tbsp chili powder
      • 1 tsp ground cumin
      • 1 tsp dried oregano
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
      • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
      • 1 (19 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
      • 1 (19 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
      • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
      • 2 tbsp tomato paste
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
      • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
      • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
      1. In a Dutch oven, saute onion, peppers, carrots, celery. garlic and spices over medium-high heat until onions turn translucent. 
      2. Stir in tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
      3. Stir in beans, corn and tomato paste; simmer until bubbling, about 5 minutes.
      4. Sir in coriander and lime juice.
      5. Sprinkle with cheese and top with sour cream.
      Note: You can add hot sauce or red pepper flakes if you want to add heat to your chili.

      Sunday, March 14, 2010

      Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas

      Empanada is a stuffed pastry most commonly made in Spain and Portugal. The Spanish version tends to be larger in size whereas the Portugal version is divided into smaller appetizer size portions.  This particular recipe comes from the Veganomicon cookbook (one of my favorites!).

      This time around I used butternut squash instead of acorn as I just so happened to have some ready to use -  peeled and diced in the freezer. I find it easier to store extra squash in a Tupperware container in the freezer, especially when making recipes that yield small portions of squash. It's convenient to know that you always have diced squash on hand. Also, this recipe like many others only requires 1 cup of beans and most cans yield 2 cups. Instead of throwing away the extra beans you can freeze the leftover rinsed beans just as you would the squash. When you are ready to use your frozen beans, simply rinse with hot water until they become soft again.

      I highly recommend this recipe both as an appetizer and a main dish (and served chilled for lunch the next day). Serve with guacamole, salsa or sour cream for dipping. I have had great success making these ahead and freezing to bake on another day. They are quite time consuming so make sure you give yourself ample time if  you plan to serve the same day. I think I will probably double this recipe next time so I can have one batch ready in the freezer for a rainy day!

      Thursday, March 11, 2010

      Eggplant Pasta Bake

      So I like to cook with eggplant! I like the color, shape, look and taste of eggplant. I literally have trouble stopping myself from buying eggplant every time I am at the market. It takes great will power to walk past the overflowing bins of eggplant at my local market....not to mention the 2 for $3.00 sign that taunts me with no shame! So I confess, I am addicted to buying eggplant...but I know there are far worse things I could be addicted to!

      I concocted this recipe in an attempt to convince Mike that eggplant gratin has the potential of being more sustainable with added pasta. Also, every time I ask him what he feels like for dinner he requests either pizza or pasta!

      • 2 cups brown rice or whole wheat pasta, cooked
      • 1 24 oz. bottle of Marinara Sauce (or make from scratch like I did)
      • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
      • 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
      • 3/4 cup Mozarella, grated
      • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
      • salt and pepper, freshly ground
      • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
      1. Season eggplant rounds with salt and pepper and allow them to sit in a colander for about 15 minutes.
      2. Preheat oven to 400°.
      3. Arrange eggplant rounds on two baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes on each side.
      4. Grease a large baking dish and pour 1/3 of marinara sauce into dish. Layer 1/3 pasta on top of sauce followed by 1/3 eggplant rounds, chopped basil and finish with 1/3 of both Parmesan and Mozzarella. Repeat layers twice more sprinkling bread crumbs on last layer and finishing with the cheeses.
      5. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.