Saturday, September 19, 2015

Butternut Squash, Leek, Feta, Spinach & Pine Nut Quiche

I had stretched myself thin the other day and needed backup badly. Ruedi wound up making the quiche pastry and then the quiche filling for this post and the result was magnificent. Maybe all the more so because I didn't make it myself. 'Tis good not to be the only cook in the house. Now if I could just get Cat to vacuum, I'd be set.

This recipe was intended to be crustless, but I dig crusty quiches, so we had one with and one without.  Take advantage of whatever you have in the fridge that needs to be used up as alternative ingredients. This is why quiches are such favourites: there are so many options as far as ingredient combinations.  Make a big salad to accompany it and pat yourself on the back for having created a light, but gourmet meal. Then proceed to dig your secret stash of brownies out of your bedside table and pound them back after dinner to help balance your chi.

Filling Adapted From:

Crust From:

Serves 6-8



  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 200g spinach leaves
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 t wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/3 cup mature white cheddar
  • 100g feta
  • handful of pine nuts
  • salt and pepper


Crust: Mix the flour and salt together with a fork. Beat oil and water with a whisk or a fork to thicken. Pour into flour and mix with a fork. Press into a 9" pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 350F and then remove from heat.

Filling: Preheat oven to 400F. Peel and cube the butternut squash. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Add shallot and saute for 2 minutes. Add the leeks and let cook until soft. Toss in the spinach, allowing to wilt and then follow with the lemon, zest, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

In a bowl combine the eggs, milk, mustard and oregano. Add a pinch of salt and the grated cheese, combining well.

Place half of the squash in the bottom of the crust-covered pie pan and the other half in a pie pan without crust that has been greased with a little olive oil. Follow with the spinach and leek mix in both pans and then the egg mixture. Top with crumbled feta and the pine nuts. Bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Don't Fear the Vegan: Cheezy Quinoa & Chick Pea Skillet with Heirloom Tomatoes

When I found this recipe, I went back to my blog to compare it with my other vegan recipes and...

Well, there wasn't much there. I have a vegetable side dish and a creamed soup made with coconut milk.

I truly am on the 'eat less meat' bandwagon. I got on it a long time ago and have found some delicious vegetarian recipes while appreciating a low-cost meal by comparison to many of my meat-filled options. It's just that the bandwagon has so many great detours through steak village and sausage alley. I get distracted!

This one got my attention though, because as I read through the recipe, I figured it had a shot at being flavourful. For one, the basil, tomato and balsamic topping is a favorite combination in this household. It's fresh and chalked full of dynamic tastes. The second sign was that the two neutral components are well seasoned before they're combined. The quinoa is salted and mixed with nutritional yeast and the chick peas are toasted and seasoned with an interesting mix of paprika and maple syrup.

Finally, I've read about nutritional yeast and wanted to try it. For those of you who know about as much as I did a week ago, it's a pure form of yeast grown for its' nutritional value. A tablespoon's worth has about 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. It's also a good source of magnesium and a host of other nutrients ( It has a lovely umami flavour and often binds ingredients like cheese does.

Try it. I enjoyed it, Ruedi enjoyed it, it was an easy weeknight meal to prepare and it goes great with bacon! I'm kidding...kind of.


Serves 4-6


  • 1 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Chick Peas

  • 3 cups cooked chick peas (if you're buying them dried, I've made some notes below)
  • 1 t paprika
  • 2 t maple syrup
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 t olive oil


  • 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 T lemon juice


Quinoa: Boil the water and add the quinoa and salt, covering the pot and simmering for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa to sit for another 10 minutes, still covered. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Mix in the nutritional yeast and set aside.

Chick Peas: If you are using dry chick peas, rinse and soak them in a pot overnight, and then cover and simmer them for 45 minutes. This will give you a chick pea akin to the canned variety. Heat the olive oil on medium heat. Toss in the chick peas, coating them with the oil and letting the chick peas toast for a few minutes. Add the paprika and stir well. Pour in the maple syrup and toss with a little salt. Set aside.

Tomatoes: Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Together: Toss a few spoonfuls of chick peas in with the quinoa. To serve, pour the quinoa on to a platter and spoon the remaining chick peas on top. Add the tomato mix on top of that and sprinkle a little sea salt over the entire platter.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Khow Suey: Burmese Noodle Soup

Check out my bowls for a minute. Yes, I said my bowls! BOWLS!! Home Sense, people! Get on it!

On to the subject of this post: Khow Suey.  Apparently Khow Suey is an egg noodle dish served with either curried chicken or beef, coconut milk and an assortment of condiments. This particular version is more of a soup with a number of colourful vegetables in it. While it has deviated somewhat from its roots, it looks and tastes like a hot damn.

Wait for it......

Another bowl shot! Those colourful vegetables sure compliment my lovely new bowls.

On the subject of colourful vegetables, my friend Scott started growing peppers on his patio this year. His interest in all things pepper-related got a little out of hand, as his patio and indoor plant growing operation could be a candidate for the next episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive. One night, we were rummaging through the fridge looking for a snack and wound up preparing a dish of cheese, crackers and sliced jalapeños. I tried not to be impressed, but the flavour combination was pretty terrific. Now I can't seem to get enough of the hot stuff in almost everything I prepare. I can't eat enough heat.

I wouldn't call this dish a hot number, but there is plenty of opportunity to heat things up. Garnishing each serving with jalapeños is a great way to use up the insane number of chili peppers I seem to have on hand. The coconut-curry combination helps combat the heat and just compliments the flavour altogether.

Whether heat is your thing or not, Khow Suey offers a wholesome chicken and vegetable soup with a ton of dimension. Frankly, nothing will make your new bowls 'pop' in photographs quite like it either.

Adapted from:

  • 2 T vegetable oil,
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1T fresh ginger, minced 
  • 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 t dried coriander powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 2 T tamari
  • 750ml chicken broth
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • juice of one lime
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • rice noodles


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and spices, cooking until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and tamari and combine well. Pour in the broth and coconut milk and simmer for about 5 minutes. Squeeze the lime juice into the pan and pour in the chopped cilantro.

Boil 3 cups of water in a large pot. Add rice noodles and simmer for two minutes. Use a set of tongs to remove the noodles and place them in serving bowls. Ladle portions of the soup on top and add handfuls of cilantro and sliced jalapeños to garnish.

Sloppy Cabbage Rolls

Yes, 'tis the season. I'm working my way out of the salad scene and into warm meals to complement the fall weather. Prepare yourself for soups, casseroles and everything cozy.

I can't say I've ever been sold on cabbage rolls, but I'm also not much of a connoisseur on the item. I did, however, have an enormous cabbage given to me and no interest in making five different types of coleslaw to use it. Pickling the thing was an option, but I wasn't up for that either. Given our current weather situation, this warm and easy one pot dish sounded like just the ticket. I spiced it up with some Worcestershire and Chorizo to enhance the recipe's subtle flavours. Depending on your cabbage size, this dish could wind up serving ten to twelve. It should freeze well, but I didn't get the chance now that the Ruedi-vac has returned.

If you're on a low-carb diet, eating this dish on its own would make a good meal. I served it with some roasted buckwheat that I found at the Italian Centre (now with a location in South Calgary!). Yes, I'm as surprised as you to come across yet another grain I haven't cooked with. Of course, rice or potatoes are another option.

I'm also surprised by how ready I am for fall when it arrives, as it means the end of summer, another favorite season that zips by quickly. It has to be the return to a reliable and healthy routine that I need so badly by the end of August.  Cooking regular, healthy meals are part of that routine.

Adapted from:

Serves 8


-1 T olive oil
-1 small cabbage, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 onion, diced
-11/2 lb ground beef
- 300g chorizo, peeled (usually covered in paper) and sliced
-1, 28oz can diced tomatoes
-1, 14oz can tomato sauce
-1 T apple cider vinegar
-1/2 t salt
-3/4 t ground pepper
-2 T sugar
-2 T Worcestershire sauce
-1 T sugar
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


Heat the oil in a large sauce pan on medium heat. Add the onion, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. Make a hole in the centre of the pan and add the garlic, letting it sit until its' aroma is released. Add the ground beef, breaking it up and cooking it until it has browned; about 5 minutes.

Add the cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper and Worcestershire to the pan, combining well with the existing ingredients and simmering for 45 minutes with the lid ajar.

Once cooked, add the sugar and lemon juice and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve topped with the chopped parsley.