recipes

Lentil Ragu with Pasta

lentil ragu

I have been meaning to make a meaty tomato sauce for pasta for ages and ages. I knew I wanted to use lentils but I just wasn’t inspired on how to do it, until I saw this recipe on CBC for red lentil ragu. Theirs isn’t quite what I had in mind though – I wanted pasta, not potatoes as the starch, and I wanted it to be a bit more tomato-y than their proportions allowed. So after a few tweaks, voila! I really like using leeks instead of onions, they make the flavour more subtle.

This ended up being just what I had in mind: vegan but also a perfect match for a little cheese, pasta but more filling. It would also be tasty served with a side of mashed potatoes as almost a deconstructed shepard’s pie.

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recipes

Toddler-Approved Baked Tofu

baked tofu
No one warned me about how frustrating feeding babies and toddlers would be. Sure, it’s not the most frustrating part of babies (that would be the lack of sleep, for sure), but food is basically my love language. Every time my son throws all the wonderful food I’ve made him on the floor, I feel like he’s rejecting me and my pasta/casserole/zuchini chips too.

And add in the fact that his daycare wants me to send a meat alternative everyday and siiiigh I’m already tired of feeding him and I’m going to be doing it for the next 18+ years. Blerg.

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recipes

Succotash (aka the perfect way to use up a CSA haul)

Succotash
When I told Will I was making succotash for dinner, he was like, “Is that like sufferin’ succotash?” I’d honestly never heard that phrase, so apparently I didn’t watch as much Looney Toons as he did. This must be Sylvester the Cat’s way of swearing, like my friend who adorably calls people Timbits instead of dumb (so Canadian).

Oh right, so succotash! I first learned about its existence by searching Pinterest for something that used both corn and beans. My parents run a CSA (shout out to Sunflower Farm CSA!) so I get weekly deliveries of all their beautiful organic produce. But like most people in CSAs, I’m constantly struggling to just use all the veggies up! The best dishes are the ones where you can use three or four veggies in one. Usually I would just make soup, but since we’ve been in a heat wave since mid-July, that’s just not appealing.

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recipes

Kale & Mozzarella Pasta Bake

Oh February, I will be so glad to see you go. How can one survive in a city that has seen record breaking cold for the month? From conversations with my husband and my coworkers, I know that even the cold-weather-lovers amongst us have started to feel bogged down by the sheer amount of cold weather alerts and blizzards we’ve had this month. Rationally, I know spring will be here soon. But irrationally, I think perhaps I should just give into the cold and lay down on a snowbank. Or start hibernating for the last few weeks of cold.

kale pasta bake
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recipes

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Meat

veggie taco meat
Last night was our Taco Tuesday… on a Monday. Do people still do Taco Tuesdays? I think my husband (!) would love it if we actually religiously followed Taco Tuesday because his dinner requests are always either Mexican food or pizza. Perhaps that is clear from the fact that at least half of my recipes are Mexican-inspired in some way. As a bonus, this meal also counts for Meatless Mondays, so you could eat it TWO days in a row. That’s the dream.

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recipes

Broccoli, Butternut Squash and Cheesy Rice Casserole

Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole

I’m always in danger of turning this blog into a Smitten Kitchen appreciation blog. I swear, all my favourite recipes have come from her. Like, I’ve posted her brownie recipe here already – both as peanut butter brownies and as two bite brownies!

Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole

Oh wait, unrelated story coming up: I left my veggie scrap bowl on the counter while we ate dinner and Will went into the kitchen (likely to get more wine) and went, “Hey, did you forget the salad in here?” No dear, that’s just my bowl full of carrot stems, squash peels and broccoli leaves. But nice to know my garbage looks appetizing, right?

Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole

As I was saying, pretty much everything Deb posts is gold to me, and this broccoli, cheese and wild rice casserole was no exception. It was like the much classier version of the processed cheddar and broccoli rice I’d had before. The wild rice adds a nice texture to it. And it’s a very filling dish, so while it could be a side dish, we usually eat it as a main, maybe with another veggie as a side (this time I made roasted carrots!).

Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole

I also added some cubed and roasted butternut squash to it, to really boast the veggie content. Squash tastes delicious with the cheddar sauce. And even if you’re not a huge fan out it, this is a great way to sneak it in!

Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole

Broccoli, Squash and Cheesy Rice Casserole

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp butter, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup rice (usually I use a mix of wild rice and brown but I only had 1/2 cup of that so I stretched it with basmati! Wild rice tastes better, don’t be like me)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large head broccoli, florets separated, and stems peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2/3 cup broth (I used water and boullion)
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided

Start by heating your oven to 350°. Take the peeled and cubed squash and lay it on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the pieces are soft and beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter over medium low heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the rice, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high high, then turn the heat down and cook for 30 minutes or until all the water has cooked off and the rice has softened.

As the rice cooks, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and then cook the broccoli for 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain the broccoli and set aside.

Wipe down the broccoli pot and start the cheese sauce. Melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat and add the flour. Whisk the mixture until smooth, then add the milk, broth and mustard. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, until the mixture begins to thicken. Once thickened, add 1 cup of the cheese and whisk until smooth.

Now it’s time to assemble! Place your squash, broccoli and rice in a casserole dish. Stir to combine and pour the cheese sauce on top. Top with the remaining grated cheese and broil until the top is bubbling. Top with a little black pepper and serve!

recipes

Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

mac and cheese
Ooooh, what’s that? Do I feel a bit of a chill in the air? I swear I do. And you know what that means. It’s time to EAT ALL THE CARBS! And I like to add some cheese to my carbs, because my vegetarian diet is the kind that embraces all the cheese.

Just a quick post tonight, as I am still recovering from the awful back to school cold that still has me coughing (I’ve been sick since last Sunday! What is this nonsense?). Naturally my cooking has suffered as a result, but this is the kind of recipe I’ve made so many times, I could make it in my sleep.

mac and cheese
Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

  • one bunch of broccoli, separated into small florets (one pound? I dunno I just used the whole head I got at the grocery store)
  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni (I used small shells)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1.5 cups of 2% milk
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. I always start out by steaming the broccoli first, usually over the pasta pot. Cook just until the stems are tender, but don’t overcook them.

Measure the pasta by filling the casserole dish you want to use about halfway. Then cook the shells in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside.

As the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and cook for a few seconds. Add the milk and cook over medium-low heat until thickened. Once the sauce has thickened, add 2 cups of the grated cheese, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.

Once the pasta, sauce and broccoli are all cooked, mix them in a casserole dish, and top with the remaining grated cheese. Put in the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

recipes

Birthday Enchiladas

birthday enchiladas

A sign of true compatibility: I just realized that Will and I both ate enchiladas for our birthdays. Of course, for my birthday I demanded we go out for dinner, because as much as I enjoy cooking, I don’t usually want to do it on my birthday. So we went to Milagro and drank sangria and ate enchiladas and it was delicious. Whereas when I asked Will what he wanted to do for dinner on his birthday, he requested my cooking, which is a total compliment. I gave him a multitude of options, and he picked enchiladas. Bonded by our love of saucy and cheesy foods!

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recipes

Summer Greens and Grains Hodegpodge

Oh summer, the time when the Toronto farmer’s markets fill with the most amazing selection of fresh veggies and fruits!

IMG_5278
I uh, may have gone a little overboard last week.

The thing about buying tons and tons of veggies is that I always struggle with making quick weeknight dinners with them. There are lots of elaborate things I love to do with veggies, but sometimes I just need something that’s quick, yummy and doesn’t require me to dirty all the dishes.

Luckily, after all my success with my favourite quinoa salad, I’ve been cooking a lot more with grains. On their own, they can be a touch boring, but cooked in broth (or with Better Than Bouillon) and topped with roasted or sauted veggies, they are delicious.

In fact, judging from my instagram, this is probably one of my frequent meals!

grains and veggies IMG_4750 grains and veggies grains and veggies

(clockwise from top left: quinoa with peas, farro with peas and a side of garlicky tofu, farro mixed with roasted brussels sprouts, quinoa with peas and basil with a side of Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini parmesan crisps)

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