The Sweet-Tooth, The Meat Eater,
And The Vegan

In our home cooking can be a challenge! With lactose & gluten intolerance, nut & seafood allergies, and a vegan we will often have four separate meals. When we do come together on a dish, I am the master of modification. Enjoy some of our favorite recipes and don’t feel obligated to stick to the specs. Make them work for you, you know I do.

Cookies for Smarties

The amazing Smarties cookies are sure to become a family favorite. My advice is to make a double batch because they won’t last long! We always make enough of these cookies to share with our friends and have some in the freezer for a later date.

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup smarties


Method:
Preheat oven to 375° F.  In a large bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.  In another bowl or mixer, blend together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in 1 egg at a time, while continuing to blend (stir).  Add the flour mixture into the blended items and mix until it forms a dough.  Gently fold in the smarties. Note: If you’d rather use chocolate chips instead of smarties, go ahead. Use a spoon or scoop to make cookie-sized portions and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake these amazing cookies for 7-9 minutes. 

Chickpea & Blackbean Minestrone Soup With Spinach

This is my sons favorite soup. It provides roughly 4 meals for this vegan. It is the perfect soup to freeze and we do so in individual portions.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil (we like to use avocado oil)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 540ml can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 540ml can of black beans, drained and rinsed
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 can of diced tomatoes, including the juice
5 oz of pasta of choice (we like chickpea or lentil pasta)
3 cups of spinach
1 tbsp of parsley (we sometimes use dill instead)
salt and pepper, to taste


Method:
Over medium heat, cook the olive oil and onions for 4-5 minutes until onions soften. Add in the garlic and continue stirring for an additional minute. Add in the chickpeas, black beans, and cherry tomatoes and stir well. Stir in the can of diced tomatoes with the juice, vegetable broth, and pasta of choice, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook the soup for another 10 minutes, adding in your spinach and parsley (or dill). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into individual bowls and garnish with uncooked spinach. Enjoy with a slice of toasted bread. Soup Note: Feel free to add a cup of water or more to thin out the soup when you add in the broth and diced tomatoes. My son likes it quite thick.

Mom’s Caesar Salad

This salad reminds me of BBQ dinners at home with my parents, and the many times I made it with my all-time favourite neighbour, and fabulous friend Cheryl. It is so good! I skip the Worcestershire and it still turns out fabulous every time.

Salad Ingredients:
1 head of romaine lettuce
crumbled bacon (as much as you like)
croutons (as much as you like)
Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup real lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
8-10 peppercorns
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
½- ¾ cup of Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)


Dressing Method: 
In a blender, blend lemon juice, garlic, peppercorns, pulse until the peppercorns break up. Add the salt, sugar, parmesan cheese, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce to the blender mixture, and pulse again for 1-2 minutes.
Salad Method: 
Put romaine lettuce, bacon pieces, and croutons in a salad bowl. Top the salad with the homemade blended dressing and toss it until it is all combined. Make it a meal and top your salad with sliced chicken, steak, or prawns. For cheese lovers, sprinkle some fresh parmesan on the top and ta-da. Serves 6-8 people.

Simple Banana Bread

Warm banana bread fresh out of the oven with some butter on it is one of my all-time favorites. Remember to keep your over-ripened bananas in the freezer as they are perfect for baking.

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
3-4 bananas (mashed)
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

Method:
Preheat oven to 350° F.   In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar and put it aside.  In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or blender (I like mine to be a bit chunky), then mix in the beaten eggs.  In another bowl mix the flour and baking soda together.    Combine all the ingredients, mixing well.  Put the mixture into a loaf pan and bake it for 40-50 minutes.

Pesto Pasta

Made with garden fresh basil this pesto will have you hooked. We always have some pesto pasta in the fridge ready to go as a side dish or as a main meal. I love adding chicken, cooked tomatoes and spinach to mine.  

Ingredients:
1-2 handfuls of washed fresh basil leaves (2-4 Packages)
2-4 garlic cloves
½- 1 tsp of salt (we like Pink Himalayan)
¼ – ½ cup of olive oil or avocado oil
Additional salt and pepper to taste may be required
Optional Ingredients:
¼- ½ cup pine nuts (toast until golden and cooled before adding to the blender)
¼- ½ cup parmesan cheese  


Method: 
Blend all ingredients in a blender until combined.  Blend less if you want a chunky, leafier sauce. Once blended, add to pasta, other sauces, salad dressings, sandwiches or anything for that matter. Since we grow basil in our garden, I often make large batches and freeze it in ice cube trays, or small containers to save for a later date. 

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups of shredded raw zucchini (I used my food processor for shredding it quickens the process)
1 cup of flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (always optional)
¾ cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
2 eggs
½ cup oil (I prefer using olive oil or avocado oil)
½ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp of pure vanilla (you can always add more)


Method: 
Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F. Grease loaf pan. Grate the Zucchini and put to the side.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Fold the chocolate chips into the mixture.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla and then fold in the shredded zucchini.  Now fold the mixtures together. Bake at 350⁰ F for 55-65 minutes, cool down, and remove the loaf from the pan.  Because the Okanagan zucchinis are enormous, I usually make multiple loaves at one time (I use simple loaf tins for baking).  These loaves are great to freeze and probably the moistest loaf you will ever have. 

Daughters’ Famous Sugar Cookies

Baking has become a passion and an absolutely yummy way to keep my artsy daughter busy.  Her famous sugar cookies have become a school and neighborhood favorite.  She decorates these beauties with her favorite royal icing.

Cookie Ingredients:
3 cups of flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened (not melted)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
Royal Icing Ingredients:
4 cups of icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
5 tbsp warm water
3 tbsp meringue powder


Cookie Method:
Preheat oven to 375⁰ F.In one bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt and then set it aside. Using an electric mixer combine butter and sugar and mix until it is light in colour. Slowly mix in eggs, milk and vanilla until it is combined with the butter and sugar mixture. Mixing on slow speed, gently add in the flour mixture little bits at a time.  Once everything is mixed well and the dough comes off from the sides of the mixer, wrap/cover the dough and refrigerate for an hour or two.  Note: we quite often skip the fridge step due to a lack of patience, and they still turn out fabulous. Ready to roll out the dough?  First, lightly dust the counter surface with some flour so the dough does not stick.  Also, you might want to roll out ½ of the dough at a time.  Ideally you want to roll it out to ¼” thick. This is the fun part, cut the dough in whatever shapes you like, place them on a ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes until the edges start to brown. Once ready, remove from the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes before moving them on to a wire cooling rack. Once they are fully cooled you can start icing them.  Do not rush the icing process because the icing will become a melted mess on the cookies if they are still warm.  You should get about 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
Royal Icing Method:
Using a mixer (counter or handheld) mix all the ingredients Note: If using a counter mixer, mix on low for 8-10 minutes and if using a handheld mixer, mix on high for 10-12 minutes This recipe is amazing.  This icing can be thinned out a little further for flooding.  Simply add an extra teaspoon of warm water (give or take) to a cup of icing to make it the perfect consistency for outlining and colouring in your designs.  The meringue powder makes all the difference in this icing. If you are as detailed as my daughter you can separate the icing into several different bowls and mix in food colouring.   If you do not have icing bags or tips, try using a plastic sandwich bag to pipe out the icing by simply cutting out a small corner out for dispensing.    This icing will dry on the cookies within 1-2 hours. 

Spaghetti Squash With Lemon Chicken & Tomato

It’s all the rave, and it’s fantastic! My son I and I devour this dish quite frequently. If you have additional vegetables in your fridge that you need to get rid of just throw them into the mix. This is a great idea for those pasta’d out, spaghetti squash is a great pasta substitute.

Squash Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash (1- 1 ½ hand in length)
1 tsp olive oil
Pinch or 2 of salt & pepper
Sauce Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
2 tsp of olive oil 1 onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper
3 cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
½ lemon, squeezed for its juice
1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup of fresh spinach


Squash Method: 
Preheat the oven to 400° F Wash the spaghetti squash, poke holes in it with a fork, and microwave it for 5 minutes. Cut the spaghetti squash length wise, in half and remove the seeds. On a lined baking sheet place squash up, rub the inner side with olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn the squash, flat side down on the baking sheet. Bake the Squash at 400° F for 40 minutes. Once cooked, use a fork and to loosen and separate the strands of the squash (should resemble spaghetti). Use the hallowed squash skin as the bowl, and don’t forget to take a picture.
Sauce Method: 
In a frying pan, warm oil and add the chicken.  Cook the chicken.  Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and place to the side. Cheat Note:  Sometimes I avoid this step by using an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (which I’ve pulled into pieces). Add the remainder of oil to the pan and heat.  Add the onions, sauté to a golden colour and then add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and chicken stock (or vegetable) to the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and spinach to the pan, stir all the ingredients, heat for another 5 minutes and your sauce is ready. Top your spaghetti squash with the sauce, and enjoy all its greatness.  If you love cheese like me, top it with some fresh parmesan or bocconcini. 

Guacamole Goodness

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
½ red onion, minced
1 chile, jalapeno or bell pepper (what every you prefer), minced
2 tbsp of cilantro leaves, finely chopped (I always add extra)
1 tbsp of fresh lime juice (lemon juice can be used instead, but it isn’t as lovely as lime)
½ tsp of coarse salt
¼ tsp of ground pepper
½-1 ripe tomato of choice, remove the pulp and seeds, chopped


Method:
Cut avocados in half, removing the peel and seed, put in mixing bowl and mash the halves.  Add the onion, cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper.  Remember the hotter the pepper, the hotter the guacamole.  Do not touch your eyes for hours, especially if you are using hot peppers!  Add the tomato last, just before you are ready to serve it. For storage purposes cover the guacamole with plastic wrap until use; this will help the dip from changing colour.