Monday, October 24, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Bake with Homemade Sauce

I am so excited to share with you my favourite meal from last week.  It's INSANELY simple, incredibly flavourful and a real crowd pleaser.  I decided to make this after I made the Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagne, which was yummy, but lacked red sauce! ;)    So without further adieu....

Spaghetti Squash Bake
with Homemade Sauce 
Simple, savoury and scrumptious. 
A fun and easy way to get more veg into your diet.

I ♥ red sauce and every good chef mom, needs a good sauce recipe!  I have a number of different variations in my repertoire, with my favourite being my mother-in-law's.  Her sauce is an authentic  Sicilian recipe which is mouthwatering, but takes me all day to make. I knew I didn't have all day to simmer a sauce so I turned to this quick version. And while I won't be sharing the super secret family recipe, I'm happy to pass along this. :D


12* Roma tomatoes, halved and stemmed
3 Cups strained tomatoes (not roasted)
1 Cup button mushrooms
1.5 Cups sautéed mixed greens 
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Basil 
Cloves of garlic**
Olive oil 
Salt and Pepper

*The more tomatoes, the more sauce.
**To taste.  Start by adding 2 at a time and adjust accordingly

PLACE tomatoes on a baking sheet 
DRIZZLE with olive oil and season with salt and pepper 
ADD fresh thyme
SLOW roast in a 175° oven for a minimum of 12 hours. I do mine overnight
PUREE the roasted tomatoes with 4-5 leaves of fresh basil and garlic.

~At this point you can leave the mixture "as is" for a nice chunky sauce. Just simmer on the stove and Enjoy!!  OR...

ADD 2-3 cups of strained tomatoes and pulse until incorporated
ADD water to the mixture to create your desired consistency. I wanted a thinner sauce and think I used 2-3 cups but honestly I eyeballed it. 
ADD mushrooms and mixed greens 
SIMMER in a saucepan until heated through

Using spaghetti squash in place of traditional noodles is one of my favourite tricks to use when I'm craving pasta and trying to limit my carb intake.  It really mimics the texture of wheat noodles better than most other options, and it's one of my kids' favourite too.  I wasn't trying to avoid carbs here, it was just a nice bonus!


2 large Spaghetti squash

CUT spaghetti squash in halve and scoop out the seeds and fibres
SEASON with salt and pepper and place on baking sheet
BAKE in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until the inside is tender
REMOVE from oven and let cool for 10 minutes
SCRAPE out the flesh of the squash using a fork. It will separate like spaghetti

For a special treat I baked the "noodles" with vegan ricotta cheese and mozzarella Daiya to create a deconstructed lasagne of sorts.

ADD two cups of sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish
TOP with "noodles"
TOP with 1 cup (approx) vegan ricotta cheese
SPRINKLE with vegan parmesan topping
COVER with sauce
TOP with Daiya
BAKE covered in a 350° oven for 20 minutes
UNCOVER and continue to bake for 5 minutes

This was soooooo tasty and really hit the spot. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by :)

Peace and Love,


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lady Lasagne: Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Lasagne

I posted photos of this 'Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Lasagne' on my facebook page earlier this week and received so many comments and messages that I thought I better get the recipe up for you, ASAP!!

This recipe was courtesy of The Vegan Foodie, and one of a couple interesting recipes that I found on the abandoned site.  Angela from Hol:Fit gave this a try last month, and her photos looked so scrumptious that I knew I wanted to give it a whirl.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion 
Lasagne with Cashew Cream Sauce 

3 medium-large butternut squashes 
1 box wholewheat lasagne noodles
1 teaspoon rubbed sage 
1 onion thinly sliced
1/2 bag of each, cheddar and mozzarella Daiya*
*my addition for the top of the lasagne 
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cream Sauce
5 cups soy milk
9 oz cashews
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
2 cloves of garlic minced
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Overall, this recipe was very good and a lot less time consuming than my normal (non-vegan) lasagne.  I did however find that I liked the flavour a lot more as the week went on.  A couple of notes I made while preparing:
  • I used quite a bit more than a pinch of nutmeg in the cream sauce because I found it quite bland. Perhaps some sage would be nice here too.
  • I felt the overall flavour profile of this dish could have used a bit more depth. I would suggest a layer of sautéed mixed mushrooms and a layer of vegan ricotta cheese and chopped mixed greens.

Well there you have it folks!  A beautiful, plant-based lasagne that would rival any comfort food favourite you could think of.  Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by :)

Peace and Love,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'Call Any Vegetable' : Thanksgiving Side Dishes

For my Thanksgiving veg, I kept things simple this year.  'Simple' tends to be my motto in the kitchen, and excellent advice for busy moms and dads looking to incorporate fresh home cooked meals into their meal plans.  Yes, labour intensive dishes are wonderful and fun to eat and (usually) make. But let's keep it real here people, gourmet is not typically an everyday preference.  This year while I was in the middle of organizing and preparing two European lectures for my employer, I found myself taking part in 4 Thanksgiving meals AND I was recruited by my sister-in-law to work her booth at the Vineland Craft Show(Whew!!).  All of that coupled with the kid's busy schedule meant I didn't have a lot of time to seek out and make new and inventive dishes.  Aside from the staple peas and creamed corn, I made three other veg dishes for my family's Thanksgiving:

Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme Roasted Veg
Inspired by the classic "Sacarborough Fair"
and yes, I had it playing while preparing ;)

Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Carrots, sliced on the bias
Rutabaga, cubed 
Portobellas, sliced
Fresh parsley, chopped 
Rubbed sage
Dried rosemary 
One bunch of fresh thyme 
Salt and Pepper 


MIX all veg on large cookie sheet or baking pan 
TOSS in herbs to taste, ensuring the veg is evenly coated (I snagged a carrot to try)
PLACE cookie sheet on medium-high grill, turning over the veg every few minutes or so
REMOVE from direct heat once the veg start to become tender (approx 1/2 -3/4 cooked)
CLOSE lid and let cook for 10 minutes, or until rutabagas are fork tender
REMOVE branches of thyme, plucking some leaves to add to the mixture
GARNISH with some fresh, finely chopped parsley, salt & pepper

Chipotle Grilled Eggplant Sweet Potato and Parsnips
This was going to be a casserole of sorts, but we ended up 
with 23 degree weather so I switched things up and 
went outside to the BBQ!!

1 Eggplant, sliced 1/4 of an inch thick
3 Sweet Potatoes, sliced 1/4 of an inch thick 
5 Parsnips, sliced 1/8 of an inch thick 
3/4 cup Olive Oil (approx)
1 tsp Chipotle powder*
Juice of 1/2-1 grapefruit
Pinch of salt and pepper 


MIX olive oil, chipotle powder and grapefruit juice in small bowl
TASTE and adjust flavours accordingly (I was going for a hot and sour feel)
COAT the vegetables in the mixture
HEAT grill to medium-high
ADD vegetables once grill reaches full temperature (very hot!!)
FLIP vegetables after 3 minutes or once grill marks are achieved
FLIP once more and test to see if fork tender.  *The eggplant will likely be done first
REDUCE heat and continue to cook, flipping often to avoid scorching
SPRINKLE with additional chipotle powder 

Maple Glazed Carrots
This is Madison's favourite and a nice 
contrast to the predominately salty holiday dishes 

1 lb carrots, sliced
1/2 - 1 Tbsp vegan buttery spread 
2 - 3 Tbsp maple syrup


SLICE carrots (baby carrots work nice too, and saves you a bit of time)
ADD to medium saucepan and cover with water 
BRING to boil, reduce heat and continue to cook until tender
STRAIN water and add buttery spread and maple syrup
MIX until all carrots are coated
TASTE and adjust flavours accordingly
SEASON with pepper 

Here are some photos from the first couple days of Thanksgiving weekend.

The weather was SO nice that we had to bring
the cooking party out to the BBQ!!!
Troy (The girls dad) is such
an amazing cook, and I was lucky
to have him as my sous chef!
Day 1 of the Vineland Thanksgiving ARTfest
with Kendra Fisher
Just inside the entrance of Vineland Public School
I ran into an old friend of mine who now has her own line of
natural products.  Check them out here
Everything is all natural and looked divine!!
Sunshine Skin Products
The crowd at her both was very impressive!!
It really was a beautiful day!
Me pursuing a local tea vendor
Dinner #1 chez Moroz
Aren't we such good kids to clean up after dinner??!!
A pie advertisement if I've ever seen one!!

Well there you have it folks, a couple of recipes and my first few days of the holiday weekend!  Stay tuned for the rest of my weekend and a few more Thanksgiving dishes. Better late than never...right?!

Peace and Love,


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Carob Scented Cranberry Sauce

Thank you to everyone who sent me a message or commented on my last round of food photos!! Your love and support is unreal. Hooray for real food!!!

So many of you showed an interest in my Carob Scented Cranberry Sauce so here goes......

I started making my own cranberry sauce about 10 years ago and really haven't looked back since.  One of the easiest components of a holiday meal, cranberry sauce easily comes together by cooking the berries in a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar plus adding various spices and citrus (usually orange) to compliment the tartness of the cranberries.  This year I used xylitol instead of sugar (no one knew the difference!), opted to use a grapefruit rather than a orange, and added a dash of carob powder to give the slightest hint of chocolate.  YUMMO!!!

Carob Scented Cranberry Sauce
A JorDanna Original!

1 bag cranberries (organic if possible)
1 cup water
1 cup xylitol
1 handful of chopped walnuts
cinnamon to taste
nutmeg to taste
dash of carob powder
zest of 1/2 grapefruit*
*when I use orange, I also add segments of the fruit as well


ADD cranberries, water, walnuts, xylitol and grapefruit zest to saucepan
COOK on med-high until mixture starts to boil and cranberries start to "pop"
REDUCE  temp to low and simmer until desired tenderness is achieved stirring frequently
ADD cinnamon, nutmeg and carob
TASTE and adjust flavours accordingly
COOL and serve

I usually buy an extra bag of cranberries and make this at least once more the week after a holiday meal because we run out so quickly.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Stay tuned for my version of vegan gravy and some delicious veg options :)

Peace and Love,


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin for Breakfast?!

A couple of weeks ago, I made this super delicious Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake c/o Leanne over at Healthful Pursuit.  I bookmarked a ton of pumpkin recipes earlier this year in anticipation of the season and I had been patiently waiting to try this bad boy out.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!! For real, it was one of the best pumpkin dishes I've had in a long time.

I originally made this the night before because I was sure that it would be too time consuming for our busy mornings, but much to my surprise, it was one of the quickest dishes I've ever made.  This turned out to be a huge plus since I ended up having to make a replacement batch the following morning after Madison, Jesse, and I ate the entire thing that night.  This is a huge winner folks!!

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake
Originally seen on Healthful Pursuit

2/3 cups almond milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup quinoa 
1 Tbsp maple syrup 
1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger

1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1.5 Tbsp finely ground almond flour
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Let me know after you make this one guys, I'm excited to hear what you think!! 

Peace and Love,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Life and how I've been living it

Lately, I have been incredibly busy with work commitments, but have still somehow managed to find some time to get out and enjoy my favourite season.  Here are some photos from my journeys.

Last week, I was recipe testing for my friend Laurie's soon to be published cookbook!  I can't go into too many details about what I was testing, but I can let you know that her first book, "The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread", will be coming out at the end of this month.  It is the first in a three-part series and boasts "an amazing collection of gluten-free bagels, biscuits, loaves, muffins, scones, and specialty breads that rival their traditional counterparts in every imaginable way."  The books are also gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, as well as free of many allergens and 100% vegan.  As soon as the second book is out I'll post my reviews of the recipes I tested. ***Hint: I've already made them twice.....nom, nom, nom!

Drop me a message if you are interested in attending
Laurie's book launch later this month!

Saturday, I started my day by going to the Welland Farmer's Market. While I love the Spring and Summer hauls, the Fall harvest is really le pièce de résistance pour moi! The colours of the delicious bounty have begun to change, much like the leaves on the trees.

Mixed Bell Peppers
Last of the Sweet Corn?
Yellow and Green Beans:
One of my favourite raw snacks! 
Festive Fall Stand
Heirloom Tomatoes
Absolutely GORGEOUS Kale!!
I bought all of this for $1.50!!
Plenty of gourds!
They have arrived ;)
Beans, Italian plums, Royal Galas,
White Eggplant, KALE and cider

The next day the girls and I went to Windwood Farms, a local "pick your own" farm, for some fresh apple picking!

Picked with love

On the way home we stopped at a Sunday market in Beamsville.  I'm told that this market has fallen on some harder times due to a competing stand up the road, but we still found some gems.

Madison thought this sign was brilliant!
I couldn't agree more!

Attending the Niagara Food Festival has been an annual tradition for my famjam and this year was no different.  I didn't get too many photos because my hands were full of delicious food (plus I was trying not to loose the babies in the huge crowd). I chose roasted yams and an ear of corn (no butter) from The Ontario Corn Roasters,  and vegetarian/GF "rip" from Mazie. The rip's were a mixture of refried beans, roasted veg, fresh veg, and guacamole stuffed in a delightful crispy homemade cornbread pocket topped with a spicy pepper sauce.  It was so amazing and I didn't even get a photo :(

The impressive hungry crowd

Enjoying our treats

A guilty pleasure of mine is deep fried foods, but I have
 to say that this deep fried obsession is getting out of hand!
This was only 1/3 of what they had to offer.

I had the pleasure of attending Soupalicious, an event that took place in Toronto this past weekend. This event was co-orginized by a friend of mine and put on by the Plant a Row, Grow a Row program, "a national initiative that encourages folks to grow an extra row of food and share extras from their harvest with those in need." I had an amazing time and as if the soup wasn't good enough, I even got to catch demos by Meghan over at Making Love in the Kitchen and Marni over at Fully Nourished.  I had such a good time that I think I might get a table next year! Fair warning for all you potential soup testers out there ;) 
*Keep an eye out for the soup photos because I plan to do a separate post in the coming weeks.
They're in love
Marni's Demo
Meghan's Demo

While in Toronto and sans children (!!) we decided to stay the night and visit some friends.  Our night began with a dinner at Fresh and ended with Nuit Blanche festivities. Perfect date night? I think so!

City Scape
Jesse exploring the menu 
Quinoa Onion Rings
with Avocado Chipotle 
The Modern Vampire
Beet, Raspberry, Ginger and Orange
*I've made this thrice already!
Macro Greens Bowl with Brown Basmati,
Toasted Nut & Seed Mix and Wasbi Dill Dressing   
Sam Houston Burrito 
Think about it...
Is it?
Smells Like Teen Spirit played
144 times consecutively, never the same twice.

While there you have it! My last few journeys in and around the region. This weekend should prove to be just as busy as I prepare for 4 Thanksgiving dinners in 4 days. I'll keep you posted!

I also wanted to take this moment to let you know that while I truly love connecting with all my cyberspace friends, I'd like to remind everyone to step away from this alternate universe and get out there and enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer.  As Steve Jobs put it "Right now is the new you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away." Embrace each day/moment as if it were your last because you deserve nothing less my friends.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish