Pumpkin Soup for Halloween (or anytime)

I think this is the absolute easiest soup to make, it requires so few ingredients, takes no time to cook and it is delightful. It requires a lot of tasting, which makes me feel like a real chef! I have make this when I have opened canned pumpkin for something else (like my honey cake).

pumpkin dinner

My first Rosh Hashanna featured this soup!

Pumpkin Soup

Serves 8             prep time: NONE!       cook time: 15min

Ingredients:

1 can pure pumpkin puree or approx 2 cups homemade
4 or more cups of vegetable broth (to desired consistency, I often use up to 6 cups)
3 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp ginger,
1/4 tsp allspice
a dash of nutmeg  or add a tbsp of pumpkin pie spice mix instead of all spices.
optional: dehydrated onion, or fresh onion. parsley as garnish
about 1/4 cup Tofffuti Sour Supreme (or regular sour cream)

Method:
if using fresh onion chop very finely and saute in a little oil until soft and transparent.
add all the pumpkin and vegetable broth and dehydrated onion flakes if using that in a large pot, whisk together over medium heat. add more broth until the consistency is smooth and not too thick. add maple syrup and spices,  (sometimes I make this only with nutmeg) and bring to a gentle boil (do not let it get to a rolling boil) reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 5-10min. Serve with 1-2 tbsp of sour cream, garnish with some flat leaf parsley.

apumpkins Happy Pumpkins for a fun “holiday” of giving and receiving candy. In religious communities there may be a lot of debate and disagreement about such a day, but my sweet children dressed as a Brave princess and a fireman are anything but violent, pagan or inappropriate. I have no problem with the day as long as it is just about having fun, enjoying some fall produce and maybe a little (or a lot) of sugary treats.

As for the soup: My kids enjoy the sour cream part, they do not really like creamy soups, but they enjoy mixing the sour cream into the soup and will eat a decent amount just because of this novelty. Since this is not a meal soup I have no problems with this and it allows them to experiment a bit.

Advertisements

Vegan Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

muffins2For a while it was a regular Sunday morning occurrence in our house to make muffins, prior to recognizing my daughters dairy issues we followed this recipe but using real dairy and free-range eggs. It took a while for me to brave adapting our favourite recipes because when you have a memory of something its not so appealing to start messing with it. But this adaptation worked quite well, probably because I didn’t have to switch out butter, I find butter the hardest ingredient to replace and get the right texture and flavour.

IMG_2128

As for baking muffins I love it because generally they are 1 or max 2 bowl recipes, they bake fairly quickly, and they are pre-portioned. This is super important when it is fairly easy to pass through half a cake without realizing it. I keep out what we will eat at that meal and freeze the rest.

Vegan Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 12 muffins            Prep time: 20 min                   Bake time: 20 min

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups flour (plus 1 tbsp in reserve)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk alternative (I have used almond, soy and rice with success but prefer almond or soy)
2 tbsp applesauce, mashed banana or other egg replacer (I recommend a flax egg)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 apple, grated or finely chopped ( I keep skin on, but feel free to peel)
1/2 cup fresh, frozen or dried chopped cranberries.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375

In large bowl mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl whisk soy milk, apple sauce, oil and vanilla,

toss chopped cranberries with the reserved flour

pour milk mixture into dry, add apple and cranberries and mix until just moistened, do not over mix.

spoon into well greased or lined (or both, muffins tend to stick) muffin tin (makes 12 muffins)

Bake for 20 min or until toothpick or fork comes out clean. allow to cool at least 5 min before removing from muffin tin.

In general, muffins do not store well on a shelf, (24-48hrs max) individually wrap muffins and freeze to keep fresh longer.

 

Lentil Flexi Spaghetti Sauce

This mild, high protein vegan spaghetti  sauce doubles as a fantastic chilli. It falls into one of the recipes I try to keep in my freezer but fail because it is the first thing I go for when it is there.

This is one of those recipes that gives well to emptying the fridge. It is never quite the same because I always adjust the exact vegetables based on whats in my fridge.

Red lentils are just so flexible, inoffensive and healthy. If my stomach allowed me I would eat lentils so much more often, all legumes but red lentils especially.

The recipe for a normal serving of sauce serves 6, I happen to like sauce on my pasta not pasta on my sauce so it is more like 4 servings around here, I eat about as much sauce on my pasta as I would in a bowl as a chilli.

Lentil spaghetti sauce
Serves 6

Time: 45min-1hr

2-3tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 grated carrot (or finely chopped)
2 stalks of celery (3 if using small organic celery hearts), finely chopped
1/2 – 1 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 zucchini, finely chopped
1 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can tomato paste
1 can drained, no-salt added diced canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh parsley, or basil (1 tsp of dried)
1/2 tsp salt
cayenne pepper to taste (omit for kids)

The easiest way to prepare these veggies is tossing it all (including the garlic and carrots) in a food processor and pulsing to a fine chop. it doesnt result in pretty chunks of veggies but it renders them all perfectly tiny for a kid friendly sauce in seconds. I suggest you do this in two batches (carrots, celery, onions, garlic first, then while they sautee do the red pepper and zucchini)

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium and  cook onion, garlic, celery, carrot, as they start to soften add the zucchini and redpepper cook until all veggies are tender. (about 5 min)

Add lentils and broth and cover to cook for 25-35 min (until lentils are cooked) add the tomato paste, tomatoes, oregano, parsley and cook for another 15 minutes (lentils will go sorta mushy)

Variation: replace the oregano and basil with cinnamon (1 tsp) and all-spice (1/4 tsp) it completely changes the dish in an instant. I love it both ways but I prefer the traditional spices for serving on a pasta.

Tip: Generally this sauce needs no sweetening, but occassionally I get the balance wrong in the veggies I suppose and I find it needs a dash of something,  a little brown sugar works well as does honey if you use it.

Baby friendly: Omit the salt, and you can use an immersion blender to render the sauce even thinner, or entirely into a puree.  My kids have never had pureed pasta sauce cause I cannot be bothered.  (this trick works too for picky husbands, you can even use this as a base for a meat or soy protein sauce to really increase the protein content)

As mentioned, this freezes super well.

Please excuse the formatting. posts will be coming to you via the mobile app for a while.

The world today is suffering

Yesterday (October 22nd, 2014)  was a sad day, it was pretty intense too lots of things happened in my life, my country and the big world around me.

Our day started out innocently enough, a late morning because we were going to the pediatricians for their 4 year old check up, we got snacks at the ‘banana store’  (their name for  a local health food store). My son chose a pear and my daughter chose dried mangos.  I would have gotten them anything and both chose fruit. Maybe they knew pediatricians care what you eat. We walked there and back and generally had a nice morning. Everyone is healthy and I have the new Epi-Pen so feel less like a delinquent mom with an expired one! I loaded everyone into the car to head to their dads and on way I notice the tone on the radio had shifted, I realize they are talking about soldiers, and a shooter, and parliament. I listened intently then did what any self respecting member of my generation does, checked facebook and twitter as soon as I got to my destination. I had a hard time believing that so close to home something like this had happened. Somewhere where many people I know live. Somewhere I can drive to in a morning on whim. This was not OK. I had a lunch after this where the news was slowly spreading, speculations and wild stories abounded all day. After contacting friends and loved ones and being reassured they were all fine I had to get back to my day.  I am taking a break from the news until tomorrow. Later facebook brought my attention to this, more tradegy, much farther from home. But as a mother….. or a human….. just wow. These are just the stories that dominated my media experience today. Imagine what else has transpired.

My heart goes out to the families of todays and everydays victims of irrational violence.

The world today is suffering.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-5/

Pizza and pumpkins and pumpkin seeds

A few weeks ago the medium-sized pumpkins were 2 for 3$ at the grocery store. Perfect for medium-sized twins. We coloured on them and put them in the window for sukkot. Now Halloween is approaching so we will carve the sukkot pumpkins for some secular fun. And eat the seeds. This last part is very important. Seeds are good for you but seeds are also super yummy. especially covered in salt and spices. Continue reading Pizza and pumpkins and pumpkin seeds

Cauliflower and eggplant curry

I watch way too much house hunters. I am watching it now and there is such a thing as a “keeping rooom”. I need this. A room to “keep” the kids in while I cook. What a wonderful idea. Safer than when I run into their room wielding a kitchen knife because it sounds like the toy closet just fell on someone’s head. (True story, but nothing fell it was just that girl twin couldn’t get her shirt on this morning). As for the keeping room, I probably find us a house first ;).

This was an experimental dish that turned out to be fantastic. But I forgot to write down the exact proportions of the spices. The beauty of spices in a curry though is that it’s pretty much up to your tastes. This dish turned out so much better than I ever imagined.

Cauliflower and eggplant curry.

Serves: 6 Prep time: 15 min Cook time:30min

Ingredients:

1tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 onion very thinly sliced
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 small eggplants, cubed
1/3 of a zucchini, sliced/chopped
1 can no salt added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste. Especially if your canned things are no salt added.
Water (about 1/2-1 cup)

Method:
In a large pot heat oil, add cumin seeds and garlic and roast until fragrant, add onion and cook until softened. A brown layer will likely form on bottom of pot this is ok, when you add onions you can add some water and this flavourful layer will mix into the onions. Add the rest of the ingredients except spices and cook until cauliflower and eggplant is tender. (20 min or so). Be sure to add at least 1/2 cup of water. The exact amount needed depends on how much liquid you add from the tomatoes. When eggplant starts to darken you can add the spices, I find this keeps the flavours from dying out too much or over concentrating in the eggplant.

Can be frozen, delicious alone or served with Naan or rice.

No eggplant? Try it with potatoes instead.IMG_0258.JPG

Watermelon pancakes

pancakes5 We tend to assume certain foods are just a universal. That our kids will love them. I am often fooled by this. Here is a partial list of food dislikes that baffled me.

  • Pancakes (until this spring anyway)
  • Potatoes
  • French fries (my son for a while)
  • Cake (again my son – loves this now)
  • Chocolate (boy again)
  • Grilled cheese (I understand disliking vegan grilled cheese, but a real one?)

There was certainly more but pancakes stick in my head the most because I don’t remember ever not liking pancakes, french toast or waffles.pancakes6

Tides are turning around here and tastes are changing and now pancake are a favourite breakfast food. I decided on this fall morning to share an unusual pancake recipe that essentially my son invented after he insisted that his pancakes have watermelon INSIDE.pancake7This one has watermelon, blueberries and raisins!

Here is my go to pancake base recipe, you basically can add anything you want to this. What I do is mix the dry ingredients and store in an airtight container so I just have to portion some out, add some milk alternative, applesauce, vanilla and whatever fruit is going in the pancakes and cook.

pancakes2

Whole Wheat Watermelon Pancakes

Makes 16 small pancakes.

2  1/4 cups flour (I use half whole wheat and half white)
2 tbsp sugar (I use brown sugar but it works with all kinds of sugar, or none at all but I find that bland)
1 tbsp cinnamon or to taste
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (or a pinch of salt works)
2 cups favourite milk alternative, soy milk results in fluffiest
4 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup of finely cut up watermelon (or any other fruit you want)

Pre-heat skillet on medium  heat. Mix the dry ingredients well. Add applesauce, milk alternative and vanilla mix well until batter has a thick consistency but still drips from spoon. add flour or milk as needed to adjust. gently fold in watermelon.

When skillet is hot (water sizzles) add about 1/4-1/3 cup of batter to the pan, flip when edges start to dry and bubbles have formed in batter.

Serve with fresh fruit and favourite pancake toppings!

Or just grab and go:

pancakes8

TIPS: As I mentioned, preparing the dry ahead is great, another trick is to make the whole batch and freeze, wrap each pancake in waxed paper or parchment paper, tucking them all in tightly into a freezer bag. then you can take out as many as you need, toss in toaster or microwave and you have an instant, healthy, homemade Eggo pancake.

In this house, I eat my pancakes plain, my daughter likes them with maple syrup and my son likes them plain or with peanut butter smeared all over them. So far, we have tried banana, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, watermelons and pears in these pancakes, frozen and fresh and all have worked wonderfully.