Well, we’ve had an awesome few weeks of fundraising for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Spring Sprint. So far our team has brought in over a thousand dollars and we continue to climb towards our goal! We have all the way to May 26th to raise money, so keep the donations coming, knowing that it is going to a great cause! Thank you to everyone who has donated and/or joined our team! I am really looking forward to walking/sprinting with such an amazing group of people. Gen has started volunteering with a new Hospice centre that has opened near our apartment. He heard about these Hospice walks for people who have recently lost a loved one and he really wants us to go. I think that we are going to try to make the Saturday walks, see what it’s about and get some much needed fresh air. I think it will be cathartic to spend time with people in similar situations to mine.
Anyway, I’ve been very busy this week already with job interviews, applications, and resume tweaking. I am only two business days out of my internship at Appetite and I am already wondering how they are doing. I hope I can work with the two of them in the future again, as it was such a wonderful experience. In the last two weeks of my internship we discovered my passion and intensity for cookbook proofreading. Now to find a job, preferably in the publishing industry in Vancouver (HA!), where I can put all my new-found, or newly-honed skills to work. We’ll see. In the meantime, I am going to keep on cooking, baking, and candlestick making, well no, but that would be great. This recipe is a nice, healthy base for awesome pasta sauces, meatballs, and anything else you want to throw on there.
This soup is creamy, buttery, thick, and delicious. I have been on a weird cabbage kick lately and here we go. This soup is awesome and hearty and can be easily veganized by omitting the dairy (or switching for vegan versions), it will still be amazing. The recipe makes a lot so you will have meals for days, or for a group. I served this up with a sprinkle of cayenne and some sausage on the side. You will see I’ve suggested that the cabbage and cauliflower can be any size, the measurements can be adjusted for different amounts of veggies (it’s hard to hunt down a particular size of veggies).
Creamy Cauliflower & Cabbage Soup
- 1 head of cabbage (any size), roughly chopped
- 1 head of cauliflower (any size), roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 cups of chicken broth (or more, to almost cover the veg)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- paprika or cayenne to sprinkle
- In a very large pot melt the butter. Sauté the cabbage over medium-high heat until softened and somewhat translucent.
- Add the cauliflower to the pot, sprinkle with pepper, salt, and cumin.
- Pour the both into the pot until you’ve just about covered the veggies.
- Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and allow the soup to simmer for an hour until everything is very tender.
- Using an immersion blender, blend up the soup until smooth.
- Add crumbled feta and cream to the smooth soup, and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Serve in a large bowl and sprinkle with either paprika or cayenne.
Ready to cook down.
This cabbage looked lovely inside.
I’ve been having some big cravings for pakoras lately. I am not sure why I’ve wanted them so bad, they aren’t something that we’ve every regularly eaten, and I’ve never made them before, but this week I made it my mission to cook some up! Veggie pakoras can have a lot of different add-ins, often spinach is an ingredient, onion as well. As usual, I didn’t have spinach on hand but had a handful of delicious swiss chard, and knew that this would be an easy substitution. These pakoras pack a little heat, so feel free to tone down the spice. A lot of extra spice can be had with some good mint chutney, make it yourself if you dare (I will be daring to do this later, today I used store-bought… I know, I know, Stacey, get it together).
Swiss Chard and Onion Pakoras
Adapted from here.
- 2 cups Chickpea Flour (aka Besan or Gram Flour)
- 1 tbsp crushed red pepper (use half if you are spice-averse)
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garam masala (make your own, essentially it is my Amazing Curry spice mix, minus the salt and the chilli powder)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 green chili pepper, thinly sliced (use half if you are spice-averse)
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 medium onion, my onions were massive), sliced into 1/8inch crescents (cut in half, chop off ends, cut along ribs to create thin, but not too thin, slices)
- 4-6 leaves of Swiss chard, fold the leaves in half lengthwise, cut off stem, and slice into 1/4-inch thick, 2-inch long strips.
- 1 cup warm water
- Grapeseed oil (or another mild-flavoured oil), for deep frying
- Fill an 8-inch cast-iron skillet half-way up with oil. Heat the oil to 360-375ºF.
- In a large bowl, toss together the chickpea flour, red chili flakes, garam masala, salt, baking powder, sliced chilli pepper, cilantro, Swiss chard, and sliced onion.
- Slowly add in the water, while mixing with a wooden spoon or your hands. Vigorously mix for a couple of seconds. The batter will be thick, and air bubbles should be evident, if not, give it another vigorous stir.
- If you don’t have a thermometer that goes to 360°F, don’t fret. Put the end of a wooden spoon into the oil, if there are a lot of bubbles forming around the end, and coming towards the surface, you are ready to fry.
- When the oil is ready, carefully place heaping tablespoons of batter into the pot. Don’t do more than three, or four at a time. If you overcrowd the pan, you will lower the temperature of the oil significantly and your pakoras wont fry, but absorb the oil. Greasy pakoras are no good.
- Turning once, fry until the pakoras are a pecan-brown. Drain on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet.
- Repeat with the remainder of the batter.
- Serve with mint chutney, sriracha, mango chutney, ketchup chutney, ketchup, anything really.
This is my kitchen situation. Small space, but now that we’ve removed the microwave, it is a lot more functional. That cord off to the left? That’s my camera cord, as right now it is the only way to use my camera… I forgot my battery charger in the Yukon and sadly the cord only allows the camera to operate, it doesn’t charge it.
These sticky treats are not your grandma’s date balls. They are fudgy and packed with chocolate flavour. I added a lot of nuts, probably more than you might want, but they are tasty. And they are easy to adjust to what you have on hand or what your tastes are. I am often finding myself pining for chocolate and these have successfully satisfied those cravings time and again. They keep wonderfully in the fridge and travel well. While I happily used my food processor that I got from my friend Kim, these could be made without it by chopping things up very small by hand and mixing well, though they will be less fudge-like. They are pretty darn healthy, there is no butter or sugar added as the dates act as both.
Chocolate & Nut Date Balls
- 2 1/2 cups of pitted medjool dates (can be whole, chopped, whatever. You are processing them)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup salted cashews (I just had these on hand and they were awesome, the saltiness added a new dimension)
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 2-4 tbsp cocoa powder (start with two and work up to your desired fudginess)
- 1/3 cup dried oats (whole oats if you are using a food processor; quick oats if not, as they are already chopped up)
- 2 tbsps of semi-sweet chocolate chips are optional (totally not necessary but will further amp the chocolate factor)
- Chuck everything into the food processor and blend. Start with only 2 tbsp of cocoa powder and add more as needed. If the texture isn’t coming together more dates will add the necessary stickiness. Add more nuts, coconut, dried fruit, etc. as desired.
- Once things have been chopped down to your taste, roll into balls, place in a tupperware and refrigerate to firm them up. Feel free to roll these in some additional cocoa powder or coconut.
- If you are making these by hand, which is definitely possible, chop all the ingredients that need it, as well as you can. Pop everything into a bowl and stir aggressively (that’s right, aggressively!) to combine. You are looking for the ingredients to stick together and distribute evenly.
- Eat morning, noon, and night.
All the good stuff, ready to mingle.
This delicious, vegetarian and VEGAN, soup was made by my mother while we were up in the Yukon a couple weeks ago. She got the recipe from her friend Karen, and I got the recipe from my mom. It is hearty and delicious. We mopped the soup up with my mom’s throw-together buttermilk biscuits, which Gen LOVED. This soup will help sop up the alcohol in your system after munching the treats below.
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped small
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-6 tsp turmeric
- 4-6 tsp cumin seed
- 12 tsp cracked black peppercorns
- 1 can(796 ml) chopped tomatoes
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can coconut milk (398 ml)
- 12 fresh lemon squeezed
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 15 minutes.
- Add garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, and peppercorns and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Add your water, lentils, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer at med. for 15 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for at least 1 hour.
- In the meantime, make biscuits!
- When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with lemon slices, a dollop of plain yogurt, and cilantro!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 heaping tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup margarine (or butter)
- 3/4 buttermilk to start, more as needed
A quick note: My mom has this recipe in her mind, so I am transcribing her instructions as given on the phone. Adding the milk is the contested bit as her instructions were “as much milk as needed to get the right consistency…” Okay.. thanks! Haha, so I’ve estimated to start with about 3/4 cup and go from there. You will probably use up to 1 1/2 cups, but start small!
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Cut in the margarine with a pastry cutter, until the mixture is like pebbles. You want marg bits the size of peas, evenly through the flour mixture.
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix until a sticky dough has formed. Add more buttermilk as needed, but don’t overmix. Once it has come together, you are done.
- Plop the dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Pat the dough into a roughly even, thick circle. My mom emphases the need to keep the biscuits are thick!
- Cut out circles with a glass dipped in flour. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes, or until golden. Pull one open to check for doneness, it should be fluffy.
Veggies getting their sweat on.
Mom insists that the most important part of the recipe is a chunk of carrot for the dog.
Getting ready to cook it all down a bit.
Cutting the butter into the flour. Biscuit time!
This shot was made possible only after I told mom, “No, it needs to be pouring out. Pooooourrring out” I got a sassy look.
Biscuits of heaven. They are fluffy on the inside with the perfect crunch on the outside.
The holy grail of recipes, my mom’s recipe book. One day I’d like to transcribe this for my sister and I.
Genesis gets excited once in awhile about food from his country, El Salvador. One of these things is yuca. We don’t have it often, but it is always a treat when we do. The texture of yuca is fluffy, and dense. It is like a super rich potato crossed with fluffy bread. You’re confused, I understand, just trust me. Oh, and yuca looks like a waxy log, and when you peel it it smells like lavender… so there’s that too. But, once you’ve peeled it, cut out any brown spots, boiled it briefly, and baked it, you have awesome fries. Give it a shot! Hell, I might even try mashing them, I’ve heard good things!
Waxy logs, see, I told you! Scroll down for the interior-deliciousness.
- Two yuca roots (see above)
- your favourite oil
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Peel your yuca well. It is easy to do, that skin is not as thick as it looks and feels.
- Cut the yuca into three even chunks, cut those chunks into fry-sized wedges.
- Fill a large pot with water and some salt, bring to a boil. Add yuca. Boil your yuca for 8 minutes, this will help the baking.
- Drain the yuca and pat dry. Some of the yuca might seem a little gummy, this will sort itself out during baking.
- Lay the yuca on a parchment-covered cookie sheet and drizzle well with oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt (and spices of your choosing).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once, until crisp and browned on the outside, creamy on the inside.
- Dip into Basil Aiolior even Walnut & Feta Dip!
Tasty (half batch) yuca fries with Walnut Feta Dip.
Kale is tasty when sautéed with some garlic, but I’ve been hearing so much about kale chips, that I had to try for myself. Kale was super cheap at IGA on the weekend, so I bought a couple bunches and gave it a shot. These are so thin and crisp, so delicious! Most of them kept their deep green colour, which I liked, but those that browned a little were still fantastic. These can be easily flavoured, and I am going to try that with my next batch, but the simple salt and olive oil version was great for a first shot. Don’t be afraid of these, I was, crispy greens is not something that normally tickles my fancy, but this just seemed right.
- 1 head of kale
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp)
- Preheat oven to 280°F
- Wash your kale.
- Cut away the… spine… of the kale leafs. Cut the kale into 2-3 inch pieces.
- Place kale on a parchment-papered cookie tray, sprinkle with oil and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with salt, toss again to evenly salt.
- Spread the pieces fairly evenly on the tray.
- Cook for ten minutes, gently flip, cook for another 10. Devour.
Tossed in oil, ready for some salt (and spices in the future, check back next week!)
Munching time! Gen loved these.
The Coup (hmm, how do YOU pronounce it? I always say it like “coo”, drawing on my french, but others say it like a chicken coop). Anyway! The Coup in Calgary is one of my favourite restaurants and it just so happens to be vegetarian and vegan, and delicious. I almost always get the same dish when I go there, I am one of those people, and when I moved to Vancouver I missed that dish very much! The other day I was wandering the internet for recipes to try and came across this funky blog, that happily had posted The Coup’s Peanut Satay Dragon Bowl recipe, right from their cookbook which I have to get my hands on when I get back to Calgary. Well first, I told her how thrilled I was to find this recipe, and second, I made it! And it was GREAT, just like the restaurant. Genesis’ quote, “This meal was f’ing amazing, you should sell the sauce!” (and Gen is not the sweary type) He also wants it known that the pictures I took do not do the deliciousness justice (sigh, my picture taking is still not the best). Anyway, stop reading, start making!
Peanut Satay Dragon Bowl
Recipe adapted with my notes, happily found here, from Meet The Coup Cooks.
We used light peanut butter, reduced sodium soy sauce, and light coconut milk with no issues except I did have to add a dash of salt to the sauce to make up for the reduce sodium soy… a stupid trade off, it was just what we had on hand. I might also add fresh ginger to the sauce next time. I will report back!
Sauce of the heavens (this makes a ton, feel free to halve, or save it for future meals)
- 2 cups crunchy peanut butter (or smooth with 1/2 cup chopped raw peanuts)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- the juice of 1 lime
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 3-6 tbsp of sriracha (or your preferred chilli sauce. The recipe called for 2 tbsps, we added 6, and could’ve gone with more, taste as you go)
- 1 package of extra firm tofu (would also be great with cubed chicken, beef, shrimp, etc.)
- 4 cups of seasonal veggies of your choice (I used zucchini, red peppers, and broccoli)
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts
- In a large pot over medium heat, mix the peanut butter and water together.
- Continue to stir until you reach a smooth consistency, watching that you do not burn the peanut butter.
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and continue to cook at a low heat, stirring often for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a large pan, sauté the tofu until the edges are crispy and lightly browned. Add the chopped veggies and a splash of water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Sauté until tender-crisp.
- Pour the peanut satay sauce over the tofu and veggie mixture and heat until it bubbles.
- Serve over your favourite grains or noodles.
- Garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts.
Getting ready for saucing.
This lasagna was adapted from a recipe sent to me by my lovely friend, Chloë (check out her blog here, it is not food-related but speaks volumes of her awesomeness). I’ve included her recipe at the bottom because it is delicious, but I’ve unveganized it with cheese, switched the tofu for lentils, amped up the mushrooms, and made some personal changes as Chloë suggested. The polenta replaces the noodles in the dish, which is a delicious trick (my mom is uneasy about this switch). It was delicious, and still is delicious, as this made a lot! Mushrooms come in and out of my favour and this recipe placed them firmly back in my heart. Enjoy!
Mushroom & Eggplant Polenta Lasagna
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggplants sliced length-wise in medium-thin strips (see picture)
- 2.5 cups of pasta sauce (I used a roasted portobello tomato pasta sauce for the full mushroom effect)
- 10 large white mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tsp chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp water
- 4 cups of fresh spinach
- 3 cups cooked lentils (want some meat in your life? 1 lb of browned ground beef can go here, but it is totally unnecessary as the meat isn’t missed in this dish)
- 2 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella (or italian mixed white cheeses)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- Make the polenta (REQUIRES SETTING TIME). Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and whisk in the cornmeal in 3 parts, keep whisking to avoid clumping. Turn the heat to low, and, stirring often, cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the butter, and stir until melted. Pour the polenta into a 9 x 13 dish and smooth the top. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably longer (ooooooor buy polenta at any grocery store).
- Cut polenta into strips, vary the thickness according to preference, I left mine pretty thick, about 1/2 inch.
- In a large pan over medium-high heat sauté the eggplant strips in batches of 3 until the eggplant browns, set the strips aside.
I am not a huge fan of eggplant but it was delightful in this dish.
- Sauté the mushrooms, spinach, and garlic over medium heat with a bit of olive oil and the 2 tbsp of water until tender.
- In a medium bowl mash the lentils and 1/2 cup of cheese. Add the spinach/lentil mixture to the spinach and mushrooms. Combine well, salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grab a 9 x 12 inch pan… maybe even the one you made the polenta in… huzzah! Or, as I did, grab two smaller but very deep casserole dishes. Also, cover a cookiesheet in aluminum foil… trust me.
- Spread about 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of polenta strips over the sauce, leaving a little space in between them. Drop half of the filling onto the polenta and spread to cover. Cover with half of the eggplant strips. Spread another third of the sauce over it all and sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Cover with another layer of polenta, filling, eggplant, and cheese. This should use all of your ingredients… if not you’ve done something terribly wrong.
Layering like a champ.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, place it on the middle rack and the cookie sheet directly below to catch drips. Bake covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes (50 minutes total). Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Chloë’s original recipe here:
Vegan Polenta Lasagna with Eggplant, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tofu
- 2 cups cornmeal / corn grits
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 cups water
- 1 eggplant / aubergine, cut into long thin strips
- 1–3 tsp. chopped garlic
- 1 jar of pasta sauce (tomato sauce)
- Sliced black olives (optional)
- 3–6 white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp. water
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, mostly but not completely thawed
- 1 package / 1 cup tofu (firm or medium firm)
- 2–4 tbsp. nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy taste)
- 1 tsp. salt (optional)
- Make polenta. (This can be done a day or two in advance.) In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to boil over high heat; gradually pour in cornmeal, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes or until smooth and thickened enough to mound on spoon. Transfer to greased 13 x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish, smooth top and set aside to set. (If making ahead, keep covered in fridge until needed.)
- Turn polenta out onto chopping board; with long knife, cut horizontally into strips (as thin as you can cut without it falling apart – about 1/3 of an inch).
- Brown eggplant strips in fry pan with cooking spray or a very little bit of oil.
- Sauté mushrooms and garlic over medium heat in the 2 tbsp. water until tender; cover between stirring to keep them from drying out.
- Place the tofu and thawed spinach in the food processor and process briefly, OR mix them together in a medium-sized bowl with a potato masher or strong fork (or with your hands, but it might be cold because the spinach shouldn’t be entirely thawed). Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix until smooth. Add the mushroom/garlic mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Make layers. Spread about a third of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×12-inch pan (casserole/lasagna dish). Place a layer of polenta strips over the sauce, leaving a little space in between them. Spread half of the tofu mixture on the noodles (I drop it by spoonfuls and then spread it). Add a layer of eggplant strips next. Spread another third of the sauce over it all. Cover with another layer of polenta, tofu mixture, and eggplant. Keep making layers until the pan is nearly full, then pour the remaining sauce over this. Sprinkle sliced black olives on top.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour (30 minutes with foil covering, then another 30 without the foil). Let stand a few minutes before serving.
This curry is coursing through my veins. I found it, tried it, tweaked it, and have cooked it at almost once a week over the last five months. I’ve made it with chicken and turkey but my favourite so far is the ground beef version. I am going to try the recipes with lentils because Genesis is all about lentils and I can see them tasting amazing in this dish. This is an easy-to-vegan recipe. Switch out the ground beef for TVP, lentils, chickpeas, etc. This time around I added lentils and peas which added an nice texture and sweetness.
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 1.5 tsp ground cardamom
- 1.5 tsp ground coriander
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1.5 tsp ground cloves
- 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 lbs of ground beef (alternatives: 2 lbs ground chicken, turkey, lamb, etc. or veggie it up: all lentils, tvp, chickpeas, etc.)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 large red onion (very large… or 1.5 kinda large onions. Can use white or yellow, I just like red onions)
- 4-6 green serrano chili peppers or jalapeños (to taste)
- 1 head of garlic (seems like a lot but this is a lot of food)
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1 cup lentils
- Mix together all the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
- Brown your protein in a large pot with the coconut oil (or olive oil if you are so inclined), add salt and pepper to taste.
- While browning the meat chop your onion, peppers, and peel your garlic.
- Drain your protein and set aside.
- In the same large pot saute the onions, peppers, and crushed garlic (you can add a little more coconut oil if you need to). Cook until onions become lightly translucent.
- Add the meat back in. Add lentils and peas (and any other veggies you want) and sprinkle everything with your spice blend.
- Stir the mixture over medium heat for a few minutes until the spices become fragrant.
- Pour in your two cans of coconut milk, stir to combine.
- Cook everything until hot throughout and the meat is cooked (shouldn’t be long if you’ve happily browned away already).
- Serve over rice, or quinoa, or more lentils, or green beans, or a tire (I bet it will make it delicious). Squeeze lime over everything.
Spices lined up, ready for mixing.
Onions, peppers, and garlic.
About to be served.