Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

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We meditate in our staff meetings.

Our coordinator leads the visualization and it’s about 5-10 minutes. Usually it takes me the first two to remember to breathe and relax then I’m good. I can use the time to truly become present which is a great way to start a meeting.

It’s great in practice and normally I love the chance to gather my chaotic brain but today I couldn’t focus for even a second.

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Today I only had one train of thought ricocheting around in this little noggin and that was….

Would I put garlic and sage in the sauce or should I put the sage in with the squash???

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Seriously, I spent the entire time I was supposed to be grounding myself and connecting with my breathe on wondering which herbs would go where and if I should use more or less cheese.

I have come to realize that food is more than a hobby for me and if I ever have an opportunity to make this a career let me tell ya I will jump at the chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I work with families in a way that I feel brings real hope and we can make a huge impact but all I want to do is feed them and cook with them while we talk.20131113-212750.jpg

Maybe that’s what my goal should be. I could be the cooking counsellor. I would invite people to my kitchen and we would cook together while discussing their concerns and planning what to do. Then we would eat a lovely meal build our relationship and everyone would be the happier and wiser.

There may be some insurance concerns though… Some people just shouldn’t be given pointy things and even I burn myself on an almost daily basis.
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Oh well the idea was fun

Until then here’s the recipe that I worked out while I should have been meditating.

It’s a perfect fall pizza with ingredients that are in season and usually available locally. Kale and sweet squash seem to pair wonderfully and mingling with a little sage and parmesan makes this pizza something I could eat way too much of. I also went with the theory that if you’re feeding non-vegetarians a veggie based meal, cheese usually makes them happy.20131113-212731.jpg

Actually I’m really not using that much cheese compared to an average pizza. The bechamel base adds a creaminess that helped ease the cheese. If you wanted to cut back on the butter too I have made white sauces with olive oil quite successfully.

This pizza was also the first time I have used a home made crust. Usually we just don’t have time but hubby was off and loves baking so he prepped the crust earlier today. We used this Recipe

Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups diced Butternut squash (about half a medium sized squash)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 bunch of kale chopped 
salt and pepper

Garlic Parmesan Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
pinch of both chili flakes and nutmeg

1 cup of old white cheddar or mozzerella
Parmesan 

Makes 2 pizzas

Preheat oven to 425F

In a medium saucepan over medium heat warm 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper sautéing for 5 minutes then add the fresh sage. Continue cooking for up to another 5 minutes until the squash is fork tender then set aside.

In a seperate pan heat the 2nd Tbsp of oil and wilt the kale, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

In a small sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes regularly whisking. Warm the milk (I used the microwave) and slowly stir into the flour and butter. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken then stir in the parmesan, garlic, chili flake and nutmeg. Once the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon remove from heat and set aside.

I used a metal pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal. I find this helps it not stick and get crisp on the bottom.

Spread the crusts with the garlic cream sauce then layer on the kale and squash. Top with the grated cheese and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan.

Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly

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Please leave me a comment letting me know how your family or friends enjoyed it or really anything you have to share:)

I have a Facebook page too if you want to come on over and check it out. I post nightly meals, ideas, and share about how I feed my family healthy and tasty meals.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

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Every time my husband meets a vegetarian he asks if they eat bacon. The man is convinced that even vegetarians can’t resist it and that they all obviously cheat. I honestly think he struggles to believe that a person could happily choose to not eat meat. It’s terribly embarrassing and thankfully my vegetarian friends have been submitted to sillier questions so they  laugh it off.

I’m not really surprised though. When I met his family and told them that I was a past vegetarian  they had a hard time imagining a person living on carrots and potatoes. Meat was central to family dinners and hubby just came to expect to see it on his plate.

I didn’t help much either, at least at first. When we first started dating I  adapted my mostly veggie ways and made meals more to his tastes and preferences. I guess I believed the saying “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Over time this started to drive me a little batty, (shocking), and since he isn’t the cook in the house I decided to cook the way I prefer. I dropped the meat-ccentric meals and slowly shifted our diet to the veggie focused way I ate before he came around

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More recently I’ve managed to get us eating  three vegetarian meals a week, (our budget is thrilled). It’s taken some finessing and finagling to keep a meat eater happy with all veggies for dinner, but other than the odd request for an entire ham for supper I think he’s adapted well. One of the tricks I’ve learnt is to give him something that’s familiar like pizza or a burrito. He already knows he likes them so he’s willing to try a veggie version.

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These burritos are a great example. The combination of sweet potatoes, beans and cheese provide not only all the nutrients you need but come in a familiar package. Plus they are filling and hearty enough to satisfy hubby. The kids loved them and I get my way, which of course always makes me happy.20131024-183631.jpg

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 clove crushed garlic
2 cups small cubed sweet potato
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 can black beans
1 cup diced red pepper (about 1 pepper)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup veggie stock
2 Tbsps lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 tsp honey
salt to taste

2 cups of grated cheese
6 tortillas

In a large skillet melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to become translucent. Stir in the garlic, cumin and chili powder cooking another 30 seconds or so then add the sweet potato. Continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes or until they are fork tender.

In a separate bowl combine the stock, honey and lime juice.

Stir the beans and peppers in with the sweet potatoes and pour the stock mixture over top. Cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and most of the sauce has been absorbed. Season with salt and sprinkle in the cilantro

Lay out the tortillas and place about a half cup of the mixture near one edge of the tortilla and sprinkle in a layer of cheese.

Roll and place in a clean skillet.

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Place a heavy pot or another pan over top and cook over medium low heat for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve with salsa and plain yogurt:)

I hope these burritos make your family as happy as ours and that they satisfy even your most carnivorous members. Enjoy and have a yummy week!

This is my first time including a video. I’d love to know what you think! I also share dinner ideas on my Facebook page @ www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Painted Plates

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Curried Cauliflower with Almonds, Raisins, Spinach and Gnocchi

For some people art or music is their source of creative expression. Not me, I can scribble a little and love music but it’s not an outlet or an extension of my personality. For me the most creative and most me I feel is in the kitchen. It’s my canvas

The prep is my meditation, I get into Zen mode thinking out the rough form of a recipe. And as I cut and prep it’s like an artist sketching in pencil before picking up the paints. Then cooking starts and I find myself tasting and dancing around the kitchen. Smelling spices and peeking back in the fridge.  New ideas coming like little jolts from the divine cooking gods. “What about curry….oooohhhhh what about curry and raisins…yes!”. I feel free and joyful and excited to share my masterpiece, (or crayon drawing, depending on the day). Continue Reading »

Vegetarian Black Bean Taco Salad

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Taco salads are great for so many reasons. They’re easy to make, taste fresh and delicious and feel satisfying. I usually always make mine with chicken but in my goal to reduce our meat intake at home I thought I would try to make a vegetarian version. One of my biggest pet peeves about vegetarian cooking is when a recipe just takes out the meat and calls it a day. I feel like I can tell that something is missing so I wanted a salad that can stand on its own and that you wouldn’t even consider adding chicken to. I think I nailed it and I hope it’s a hit at your home too.

The dressing has a tonne of flavour and would be a great vinaigrette for any salad. There’s lots of fresh vegetables  and  enough protein that you feel completely satisfied. Minus the cabbage and salad greens and this would even be a great salsa. Even though my son can handle a bit of spice I added the jalapeño after removing a portion for him. He loved it and finished his plate.

Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Agave or honey
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove  finely chopped garlic
salt to taste

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and thoroughly whisk together.

Salad
1 540ml can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup cooked corn
1 cup diced tomato
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1/2 a finely diced jalapeno

I used frozen corn cooked in the microwave for 3 minutes and then drained. 
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl with the vinaigrette and allow it to all mingle and fall in love. I let mine sit about 15 minutes before serving. 

Black Bean Taco Salad

Black Bean Taco Salad

You can stop here and this is a great vegan salad that stands completely on its own. For our dinner we layered the bean salad on organic salad greens, topped with tortilla chips and a sprinkle of grated cheese. It was awesome, delicious and so easy to make. I will definitely make this a part of our regular meal plan.

Vegetarian black bean taco salad

Family Meal Plan Week 2

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I have my sister and her baby girl in town for a visit this week and we want to experiment with making some new baby foods. So I know I want at least two dinners that we can throw together in under 20 minutes. With my own new eater I’m finding evenings are getting a bit crazy. Dinner for me and hubby, a toddler portion and something for the tiny eater with a big appetite. I’m a firm believer in babies eating real food with flavour, so this of course means I create twice as much work for myself.

Other than that, our week is pretty quite and with my husband still home I have some time to make dinners we all enjoy

Monday Night

Vegetarian Chickpea Tacos – I’m doing my grocery shopping on a Monday this week. This is my families favourite vegetarian (vegan if you don’t top it with cheese) recipe and it comes together quickly so I’ll be able to whip it up when I get home. I served this to my vegetarian sister and brother in-law when they were up visiting me from Florida and it was absolutely devoured.

Tuesday Night

Breakfast for Dinner, Pumpkin Waffles with Chicken Sausage – A weekend experiment that translated into a fun, delicious dinner. I used the basic waffle recipe from the Joy of Cooking and added a 1/3 cup of canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger), about 1/2 tsp of each. The sausage came from our wonderful, local grocery, the 49th Parallel, that makes them fresh in store. Served with some fruit salad, my son and I declared it a solid hit!

Wednesday Night

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetable Fries – With a colder forecast this week I thought this would be a nice late winter warmer. I love that my son’s ideas about what fries are includes carrots and parsnips along with potatoes. I’m also throwing in an extra chicken breast for use later in the week.

Thursday Night

Toasted Tuna and Cut Veggies – I’m giving myself a midweek easy. Whole grain bread and some cut veggies make this a healthy and 10 minute dinner.

Friday Night

Pesto and Chicken Quesadillas – Here’s where I’m using the leftover chicken. Using a whole grain tortilla, spread a layer of pesto. Top with diced chicken, diced bell peppers, diced tomato, some cilantro leaves and a layer of cheese. If your family likes a little spice a diced jalapeño adds that bit of heat. Cap it off with another tortilla and cook over medium until cheese is melty and the tortilla is a golden brown. Serve with some fresh guacamole and salsa.

Saturday Night

Hot dogs/Chili Dogs and Coleslaw – Yup, I eat hot dogs Who woulda thought, me being so mostly healthy and all. I buy the Maple Leaf Naturals. I never want to be that mom that cuts my kids off from everything because it’s not healthy, plus I really love chili dogs. So…I try to find the least processed, best option and have it occasionally. I also confess I use canned chili. I don’t like it enough to make it often and its hot dogs so it should take only a minute, right? The hot dogs are topped with a layer of chili and cheese and baked in the oven. My no fail coleslaw recipe is a grated carrot and 2 cups of shredded cabbage. For the dressing mix together about 2 spoons mayo, 1 spoon of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and sugar. You’ll know by taste when you have the balance right.

Sunday Night

Pork Roast, Mashedo Potatoes, Chard and Pan-fried Apples – I’m pretty basic when it comes to seasoning my roasts and use salt and pepper with a little grainy mustard. I find most roasts take about 1-1.5 hours depending on their size, but always go by temperature. A pork roast is cooked when it reaches 170F. You can usually pull out a roast around 165F and cover with tin foil. It will sit and continue to cook while it rests, making sure the pork is up to temp but also moist and not over cooked. Potatoes are mashed with butter, milk and a grated clove of garlic. I love sautéed chard with a little butter and salt and pepper. Yogurt on top after its cooked adds a great tang. My Opa always served pork with apple sauce and I feel like it’s not a pork dinner without it. Because I love to play with my food my version is a little different. In a skillet sauté about a half a sliced onion over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter. Once the onions are translucent add thin slices of apple. I find a crunchy apple like granny smith works best. Season with salt and pepper, a sprinkle of allspice, nutmeg, ginger and a sprinkle of sugar. Add a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and simmer until apples are tender and cooked through.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s my post on how I create our families meal plan. Enjoy your week and as always I love hearing how your family gets its weekly meals on the table and ways I can improve this blog.

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Vegetarian Chickpea Tacos

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One of my goals this year has been to eat less meat and since I’m the cook in the house, my husband’s right on board with me. I’ve used chickpeas for a healthy protein source and upped the veggie ante with a base of tomatoes, bell peppers and corn. This makes for a super flavourful, fresh tasting taco. The recipe has become a multi-purpose base for lots of dishes. I’ve made taco salads and quesadillas using these delicious chickpeas and I’m hoping you can find your own uses.

I love tacos for their versatility and all the yummy toppings and this recipe has become a favourite. It’s also easy and quick, my non-cooking husband made this for his sister. She was suitably impressed and so was I.

For those that like it a little more spicy I would add jalapeño. I’m cooking with a two-year old in mind and he’ll have more spice then I expect but I like to start mild and add heat with my toppings.

chickpea tacos

Chickpea tacos

1 diced onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 diced tomato
½ diced red pepper
¼ cup frozen corn
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
½ lime
1 large can chick peas
¼-1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
¼ cup cilantro
Hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat sauté the onion until soft. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder and lime. Once the onions and spices have had a few minutes together stir in tomatoes and red peppers, and corn, cooking for a few minutes. Rinse and drain the chick peas and stir into vegetable mixture. Start by adding ¼ cup of stock, allow to cook for about five minutes and then mash some of the chickpeas. I find at this point I often need to add more stock to keep the mixture from getting too dry.

Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste. Remove the mixture from heat and stir in cilantro. We love cilantro so if it’s not your favourite feel free to cut back.

We like to top our tacos with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salsa, hot sauce, plain greek yogurt and shredded cheese. For those with food sensitivities or allergies these tacos are vegan, dairy and gluten-free without the toppings we use.

Here’s how this recipe fits into my families dinners for this week, Weekly Meal Plan