How To: Healthy Lunch – Curry Roasted Butternut Squash, Chickpea, and Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

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It’s time to get back to reality folks.

The holiday season has come and gone, school is back in session, and vacation time is over. I must say, I really didn’t mind being at work over the past two weeks. There was no traffic, I got the best parking spots, and everyone just seemed happier.

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But today there will be tons of traffic, I will likely be parking extremely far, and the back to work blues will be setting in. At least we have this delicious salad to help us get through this rough transition back from holiday mode.

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I think this is the perfect back to reality salad – it’s loaded with all the healthy stuff you probably lacked over the past couple weeks. Kale, butternut squash chickpeas, red peppers – you know, those things we call vegetables?? But just so we don’t shock your systems, some crunchy and sweet candied nuts are thrown in and the whole things gets tossed with a creamy tahini dressing. The perfect meal to get you back into your everyday routine.

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The recipe for the candied nuts will make more than you need for this salad. So think of that as extra support to help you through this rough first week. All the components can be made ahead of time so all you have to do is assemble this salad when the time is right and you have a healthy lunch for the week ahead.

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I know this first week back will be hard, but at least you now have a delicious lunch to look forward to. Not so bad anymore is it?

Dara

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Curry Roasted Chickpea and Butternut Squash Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

Serves 2-4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Website Adapted from Foodiecrush

Ingredients

Candied Nuts

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Cups walnut or pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg white (whisked)

Salad

  • 1 bunch kale (stems removed and chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • pinch salt

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tahina
  • 1 Tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tsp salt

Note

The nuts, squash, and dressing can all be prepared ahead of time. The candied nut recipe makes double what you need for this salad so you have plenty of extra for snacking! While this salad is a meal on it's own, it's also great topped with some chopped feta or goat cheese.

Directions

Candied Nuts
1. In a small bowl combine the sugars, salt, cayenne and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mix the nuts and egg white until the nuts are coated. Add the sugar mix and toss until well coated.
2. Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out nuts evenly on baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, tossing after about 20. Remove from oven and let cool. (you'll only need about half of them...feel free to snack away!)
Dressing
3. Combine all ingredients in a tupperware or mason jar and shake well until combined.
Salad
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss chickpeas and squash with oil, curry powder, cayenne, and salt. Add chickpea mixture to baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until squash is tender. Remove and let cool.
5. In a large bowl combine kale, dried cranberries, and red pepper. Add squash mixture and 1 cup of the candied nuts and toss with dressing. Let sit for about 30 minutes before serving so the kale has some time to soften.

How to: Seasonal Cooking – Roasted Tomato Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Whether you notice or not, we categorize each of our new posts.

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If you shift your gaze slightly to the right (and you’re on a home computer) you’ll see we even have a category tab. We’ve got quickie meals, healthy snacks, big batch meals and about 10 others.  Recently, we’ve felt the need to add a new category – Seasonal Cooking; and let me tell you, it has become my very favourite.

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It turns out cooking seasonally also means cooking simply.  Which is kind of our M.O.

Using fresh, seasonal ingredients means less fuss is needed to reach optimal deliciousness. Nature does all the hard work. Sucker.

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Fresh and ripe Ontario tomatoes are availably widely at the moment.  I can get them at my supermarket, any local farmer’s market or in my neighbour’s backyard at my neighbourhood produce mart.

Roasting tomatoes, as we’ve demonstrated before amplifies their natural sweetness and adds a subtle smokiness to produce a deep, rich flavour.

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This simple soup is perfection on its own, but served alongside a 1-ingredient parmesan cheese crisp it’s elevated to gourmet status.

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Using a handy dandy immersion blender to puree is an easy option.  This would work well in a regular blender and may even produce a smoother consistency, depending on how awesome your blender is.

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I strained mine in a coarse mesh strainer which removed all the little bits of skin and seed. They are perfectly edible of course, I just prefer a nice smooth tomato soup.

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I know most of you out there don’t have silicone baking mats, so parchment paper is a good alternative for the crisps. If you’re eager to add to your non-essential kitchen gadget list, put one of these Silpats (brand name) on there. They are magic for baking cookies with even, perfectly browned bottoms.

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These taste like the  crispy cheese at the edge of a lasagna pan. Therefore, they are heavenly.

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And pretty like lace.

Enjoy 🙂

Erin

Roasted Tomato Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Website Adapted from Food Network's Tyler Florence

Ingredients

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 2.5lb ripe plum tomatoes (about 10-12 tomatoes)
  • 6 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 Medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 2.5 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan Crisps

  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano

Note

Although delicious served plain, try garnishing your soup with fresh herbs, yogurt, a drizzle of heavy cream or some crunchy croutons.

Directions

Roasted Tomato Soup
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Halve tomatoes and place skin side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Add unpeeled garlic to pan. Drizzle tomatoes and garlic with 2 Tbsp olive oil, coarse salt and black pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, remove garlic from pan and set aside to cool. Continue roasting tomatoes for 15-30 more minutes until the underside skin is browned.
2. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Peel roasted garlic and add it to the pan with onions along with the tomatoes and stock. The stock should just cover the tomatoes. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
4. An optional step is to strain the soup through a mesh strainer which will result in a smoother finished product.
Parmesan Crisps
5. Preheat oven to 400 F.
6. On a silicone baking sheet, place 2 Tbsp of finely grated parmesan cheese in piles about 2 inches apart. Spread each pile into approximately 3 inches in diameter and pat them down lightly.
7. Bake for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely before removing gently from baking mat.

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How To: Big Batch – Tofu, Baked Bean, & Roasted Vegetable Casserole

DSC03414How many of you out there count down the hours, maybe even the minutes, on a Friday afternoon at work until the weekend FINALLY arrives?? And then, how many of you are left sitting on your couch Sunday evening wondering to yourself, where the heck did the weekend go?

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Sure, weekends can be relaxing, but they are also the time for running all those errands you rarely have time to do during the busy work week. I know that as much as I try to leave one day completely open for simply vegging out on my couch, inevitably, something comes up that makes me leave my comfy corner and leaves me wondering…how did it become Sunday night again already?

DSC03411 That is why I love these big batch, all in one meals for sunday suppers. And this tofu, roasted vegetable, and baked bean casserole is the perfect easy, healthy, and comforting dinner for a relaxing Sunday night at home. And bonus – it leaves you with plenty of leftovers for lunches and dinner in the upcoming week.

DSC03413And it’s an all-in-one meal – beans, vegetables, tofu, and cheese make for a delicious and filling entree. Use any leftover roasted vegetables you have floating around or cook up a fresh batch like I did here. Baked beans are for more than just franks – they add such a nice flavour that no additional seasoning is needed. Making this dish even EASIER if you could believe it!

DSC03417So get some relaxing in during your last hours of weekend freedom. Cook up this casserole, pour a glass of wine, and put your feet up. I know I will!

Dara

Tofu, Baked Bean, and Roasted Vegetable Casserole

Serves 6
Dietary Vegetarian
From book Good Food For All

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant (chopped)
  • 3 zucchini (chopped)
  • 2 red peppers (chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 block of tofu (cubed)
  • 2 Cans baked beans (1 tomato and 1 chipotle flavour)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Note

Feel free to swap in your favourite vegetables or any left over roasted veggies. I've used mushrooms and broccoli before with great success! I love using a can of chipotle baked beans for some added heat but use whatever flavour is your favourite.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and roast in oven for about 25 minutes until tender.
2. Meanwhile, saute onion in a large non stick skillet or wok until tender and place in a large bowl. Add tofu to skillet or wok and saute until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic in the last 3 minutes and add to bowl with onions.
3. Add parsley, roasted vegetables, baked beans to onions and tofu and mix until combined. Place in a 9 x 13 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and cover with cheese.
4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

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How to: Homemade Chicken or Turkey Stock

You’ve probably hit the upper limit of turkey eating by this point eh?

Now that the drumsticks have been picked clean and that wishbone’s been cracked, it’s time to say farewell to those Butterball remains.

But first! We make stock.

I am rarely more pleased when I want to make a soup, stew or risotto and I discover homemade stock to use in the freezer.

Every time I roast a chicken or a turkey, I save the carcass to make stock.  If I don’t feel like making it immediately, or if I don’t have the other ingredients on-hand, I’ll freeze the carcass first and make it later.  I’ve even volunteered to take a chicken carcass home from a dinner party when I found out it was going to be thrown away! Too far you think?

If you’re a fan of the roasted deli chickens you buy at the supermarket, they work perfectly for this.  I use this brilliant roast chicken recipe that has never failed me and couldn’t be simpler.

Homemade stock truly makes a difference if you’re used to cans or tetra paks of broth or bouillon cubes.  The predominant flavours in your own stock will be chicken and vegetables, not salt.

Homemade chicken or turkey stock

Serves 8-10 cups stock
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 2 hours
Total time 2 hours, 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken or turkey carcass
  • enough cold water to just cover the carcass (12-16 cups)
  • 1-2 Medium yellow onions (washed and quartered - no need to peel)
  • 1-2 Medium carrots (washed and quartered)
  • 1-2 stalk celery (washe and quartered)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 8-10 whole black peppercorns

Note

Keep in mind that your finished product will be unseasoned - allowing you to add as much or as little salt as you need when you use the stock.

Directions

1. Place chicken or turkey carcass in a large pot. If using turkey, use a sharp knife to cut carcass in to smaller pieces.
2. Add remainder of ingredients and cover everything with cold water.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours.
4. Do not stir, but skim and remove any scum that rises to the top with a large spoon.
5. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl
6. Use immediate or portion stock out for freezing and later use.
7. Allow stock to cool completely and skim additional fat from surface
8. Transfer stock in to ice cube trays or freezer safe tupperware for later use

Erin

 

 

How to: Big Batch Roasted Vegetables

I recently read an article in the latest issue of Cooking Light that talked about the trend in restaurants to put out more vegetable focused meals. While a good steak or grilled piece of chicken can taste delicious, vegetables really highlight the beauty and freshness of the season. Is there really anything better than biting into a juicy summer peach as it drips down your arm? Or taking a bite of the season’s first tomatoes?

One of my favourite ways to bring out flavour in vegetables is to roast them in the oven. And wouldn’t you know, this also is one of the simplest and hands-free methods…a double bonus!

A big sheet pan of vegetables, roasted until they are browned and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, is something you can do on your lazy Sundays. This large batch of vegetables can then be used to help add that something special to your weekday meals. Throw a couple roasted peppers or zucchinis into a salad, add some roasted eggplant and onions to whole wheat pasta, or toss the roasted cauilflower and broccoli with some leftover cooked rice or quinoa for an instant grain salad.

Roasted Vegetables

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2lb Any vegetables of your choice (Any solid vegetable can be roasted - zucchini, onion, eggplant, peppers mushrooms...etc. Try to choose similar texture vegetables so they cook at the same time (ie. don't roast harder root vegetables with softer summer veggies))
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

Roasting vegetables concentrates their flavour and brings out their natural sugars and makes them taste just so darn delicious!

This is less of a recipe and more of a guide. Use any vegetables your little heart desires! And you can shake things up with different seasonings - try adding some cumin and chili powder for a Mexican themed batch, or some dried rosemary, oregano, and basil for your next Italian feast.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep your vegetables by washing, cutting the ends off, or peeling any outer skin.
2. Cut vegetables into uniform chunks. Try to get them all about the same size so they cook in the same time.
3. Toss vegetables with oil, salt and pepper and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure they are evenly spaced out. If the pan is too crowded, your vegetable won't brown so use as many pans as you need.
4. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes for softer ones and 30 minutes for firmer ones.

Roasted vegetables…perfect for your meatless Monday!

Dara