Lentils and Butternut Squash Curry

Several years ago, my roommate at the time, introduced me to curry. It was love at the first bite. We made so many curry dishes that one day we noticed that her cat fur smelled like curry! Since then, I made many different curry dishes and each time I start smelling the spices warming up in oil I am in my happy place.

There is as many curry flavor as there are cooks. Curry is a mixture of many spices and for the dish I am sharing today, I’ll be using “Madras” curry. This will be a mild curry and therefore kids friendly. I personally like mine spicier and might share my version another day.

lentil and butternut squash curry

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can of dice tomatoes
  • 1 cup of green lentils
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 3 1/2 cup salted water

lentil and butternut squash curry

Bring the lentils and the squashed to a boil in the salted water ( don’t worry about over-salting it will be drained and rinsed), reduce to medium and let it simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 min or until the lentil and squash are tender. While the lentils and squash are cooking, in medium size pot fry the onion, the curry powder and cumin seeds in oil until they become fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes and simmer on medium heat until onion are cooked. Drained and rinse the cooked lentils and squash and add to the curry pot, heat trough and it’s ready to serve.

This dish is better served with Naan, Roti or over basmati rice.

lentil curry

lentil curry

lentil curry

Tips : Not cooking the tomatoes with the lentils can be a bit of a pain and yes one more pot to clean, but the acidity of the tomatoes will prevent the lentil to fully cook.

Note for the pictures I did add some plain yogurt but this is optional and will not affect the taste to go without. 

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Easy yummy hummus dip

Having kids make us rethink our food choices and what we put into their little-never-full bellies. Days after days, we hear the same complaint of our little one being hungry or worse starving. Really, are we being that mean to our kids by not feeding them enough. I think not.

Hummus

Beside the three square meals we feed our kids, snacks is as important as gold. Trust me, if we want to keep our sanity, quick and easy snacks are the way to go. Walking down the grocery aisle, we all have notice the abundance of ready-made convenience snacks, and they are not only marketed for kids but, plenty for adults too.

If we want healthier choices, the options are to make our snacks ourselves. Ants on a log, crackers and cheese, fruits and dips, they are kids friendly and easy to make. Most kids enjoy dips or some sorts, and hummus is not only easy to make but relatively cheap.

Basic hummus is so versatile, serve it  as a dip with vegetables and bread, or as a spread into a sandwich.

hummus dip

Hummus

Basic Hummus ingredients :

  • 1 can of chickpeas (reserve a few chickpeas for decoration and about 3 tbsp of the liquid)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 6 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for drizzling )
  • 1/2 of a lemon, juiced
  • Paprika (optional)

hummus

hummus

hummus

Hummus

In a blender, Ninja or food processor add all the ingredients and blend until creamy, add the reserve liquid of the chickpeas as needed. Pour into a dipping bowl, drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle the paprika and garnish with the reserve chickpeas.

Enjoy!

Hummus fg1

Tips: Use this basic hummus recipe and be creative with it by adding other flavors, like dill and lemon zest, roasted peppers, how about pine nuts. Let your imagination run wild.

Petit Pain d’épice

Having a house full of girls, afternoon tea is a common occurrence. We enjoy our tea time, with some sweet treats and reading some poetry.  We love the whole thing, from the dressing up to using our table manners and using vocabulary like “C’est magnifique!” a la Fancy Nancy style.

We made scones, cupcakes, muffins, banana bread and many other treats but today I was in the mood for something a bit different, something with spices. I remembered eating, once a loaf of spiced bread called “Pain d’épice”, a long time ago and decided to give it a try.

Petit pain d'epice

Pain d'epice

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick on cinnamon ( about 1 1/2 tsp grated )
  • 1/2 nutmeg, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 3 gloves, grated
  • 1/2 tsp anise seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 2-3 black peppercorn, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup oil or melted butter

petite pain d'epice

In a bowl mix in the flour, baking powder, the spices, lemon zest and salt, set aside. In a mixing bowl cream the eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, add the flour mixture. Add the milk, oil and honey and mix until smooth and all the flour mixture in no longer dry.

Pour in a well-greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Your whole house will be enveloped with those spices and you will not need any air freshener, this will be the best time to relax and enjoy the aromas coming out of the oven.

petit pain d'epice While the bread is cooling down, set the table for tea time. Choose your selection of poetry that you and your family will enjoy reading. Time to start your glaze

Lemon glaze

  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 to 2 tsp of milk as needed

pain d'epice

Petit pain d'epice

In a small bowl mix in the sugar and the lemon juice, add in enough milk to get a smooth somewhat liquid white glaze, pour over the cool bread. Slice and serve with butter or homemade lemon curd (I personally like the contrast of the tartness of the lemon with the spices and light sweetness of the bread)

pain d'epice

Pain d'epice

Tip: Using dried ground spices is convenient but sometime you don’t get the full flavor, using fresh grated spices will give you more intense flavor and you won’t regret it.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

What to do with all that Easter chocolate, don’t we all have that question on our mind today? Why not put it into good use and made a desert that doesn’t look like an egg or a bunny. I give you the “Peanut Butter Cheesecake with chocolate ganache”

Peanut butter cheesecake

Coffee

What you need

  • Graham crust 
  • 2 (250g) of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • about 12 small chocolate eggs (ganache)
  • 3 tbsp butter (ganache)
  • Pecan (topping)

Cream the cream cheese and the sugar together with a mixer until smooth, add the peanut butter and vanilla and blend well. Mix in the eggs one at the time until incorporated. Pour in the cooked graham crust and baked in water bath at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until it’s firm to the touch. Let it rest until cool and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours.

Peanut butter chocolate cheesecake

Easy ganache

In a bain-marie (double boiler) melt the butter and the chocolate eggs until soft and velvety. Pour over the cheesecake and let it set, about 30 min. Decorate with pecan

Tips: From time to time butter and cream cheese goes on sale and if you want to maximize your saving, buy in bulk and freeze them. With a bit of planning, all you’ll need to do is bring either butter or cream cheese out of the freezer and let it comes to room temperature and use it in any recipe.

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake

peanut butter cheesecake

I was inspired to make this treat after looking at Northern Nester’s “Chocolate cheesecake THM version” her pictures made me crave some of the deliciousness. Being creative in the kitchen sometimes is being free to not follow a recipe but letting yourself being inspired by it.

Lemon Cheesecake topped with lemon curd

If I could choose a favorite dessert it probably would be lemon “something”; lemon meringue pie, lemon cookies, lemon poppy-seed bread and many more.  With Easter coming, lemon cheesecake obviously came to mind. Creamy, tangy, velvety rich,  a oh so very I-am-not-on-a-diet rich lemon cheesecake.

Please excuse me for a second while I get myself another slice.

Lemon Cheesecake with lemon curd topping

Ok I am back.

I did shy away from making cheesecake for a long time, not really sure why but I think I had the notion they were difficult to make. Was I ever wrong. They aren’t complicated, a bit time-consuming, but worth every minutes of it. Let’s cut to the chase and get on with how to make this deliciousness.

Graham crust

  • 1 1/2 cup crushed graham cracker crumb
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until all the graham crumb are covered with butter. Transfer in a pie dish, pressing down the mixture to form a crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool down before filling.

Lemon cheesecake

Cream cheese filling

  • 2 (250g) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Direction

In a mixer, cream the sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the lemon juice, zest, eggs and vanilla until all blended in. Pour into the pie crust placed in a water bath and baked for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let cool and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

ready to be baked

ready to be baked

in the water bath

in the water bath

Lemon Curd

  • Zest of 2 lemons and juice of 3
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar together, add the zest and juice of the lemons and salt. Beat in 1 egg at the time mix until well combine. Pour the mixture in a sauce pan, cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until it thicken (about 10 minutes)

Lemon cheesecake with lemon curd topping

Remove from the heat and cool. Pour over the cheesecake and refrigerate over night

Enjoy

Tip: Baking in a water bath  will keep the oven moisture high and the heat gentle, and this will prevent cracking trough the middle of the cheesecake.

Easter Dinner : Roasted Leg of lamb

We all have enjoyed many Easter Ham dinner, but this year why not try something new, lamb.

Here is my example of a “Roasted Lamb Dinner” menu but it’s just a guideline, feel free to create your own.

Roasted Lamb Dinner

  1. Ham split peas soup with Honey whole wheat rolls (recipe coming soon)
  2. Quinoa Salad with Lime and Garlic vinaigrette (recipe coming soon)
  3. Roasted Leg of lamb, boiled cabbage, mashed potatoes in brown butter
  4. Spiced Carrot and Pecan cake

Easter dinner: Roasted Leg of Lamb

Roasted Leg of Lamb

  • Leg of lamb
  • Rosemary (fresh or dry)
  • 4 gloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper

Oven set at 450 degrees

Pat your lamb dry and place in a roasting pan. With a sharp knife, make many small incisions all over the skin side of your leg of lamb (white part). In each incision, stuff a small slice of garlic and a little bunch of Rosemary. Rub some salt and pepper all other the meat.

Put in the over uncover for 30 minutes, reduce to 400 degrees and cook until the internal temperature reach 145 degrees for medium  or 150-160 for well done ( or 30 minutes for each kg of meat)

Set the cook meat to set on a plate and cover with foil, rest for 20 -30 minutes (this with help keep the meat juicy)

Easter Dinner Roaster leg of lamb

Gravy

  • Dripping from the roasting pan
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup of broth (I used beef)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pour the red wine in the roasting pan, with a spatula lift of the brown bits from along with the dripping. In a sauce pan add a few teaspoon of the dripping and mix in the flour, on medium heat cook for about one minute. Add the remaining of the dripping and wine to the pot, bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the broth and simmer until thicken, serve over the meat and potatoes.

Easter Dinner Roasted  Leg of Lamb

Brown Butter mash Potatoes

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 medium size potatoes

Boil the potatoes with their skin until soft, drain. In the same pot you have cooked the potatoes, melt the butter until golden brown, turn the heat off return the potatoes and mash.

Tips ; Dry meat will browned better and browned meat is where the flavor is.

Spiced Carrot and Pecan Cake

Easter is just around the corner, a time of celebration, good food and good company. This week I will be sharing some recipes that could be part of your Easter Sunday dinner, just anytime other of the year.

Spiced Carrot and Pecan Cake

Now I am not sharing in order, because I am starting with dessert. Carrot cake and Easter goes hands in hands, not really sure why. Could be because of the bunny or because it’s pretty much the last vegetable left from winter and the Spring crops aren’t ready yet. No matter the reason why we make this scrumptious cake, cream cheese frosting is a must.

This carrot cake recipe is simple and kids will love getting their hands dirty helping.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of Flour
  • 3/4 cup Graham cracker crumb
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 small fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecan, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups of grated carrots

Cake

Set the oven at 350 degrees

In a large bowl mix together the flour, graham crumb, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, granulated and brown sugar and pecan.

grating nutmeg

In a small bowl beat the eggs add the oil and pour over the dry ingredients, add the carrots and mix with a spatula until no dry flour mixture if left.

carrot cake batter

Line three nine-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, divide your cake batter in equal part. About 420 g each pan.

batter in pan

Bake for 16 – 18 minutes or until the tester comes out clean. Let it rest for 10 minutes before taking it out and finish the cooling on a wire rack. cool completely.

Carrot cake cooling down

Icing

  • 250 g of cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

spiced carrot cake

In a large bowl cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy, add the icing sugar and blend well. Add lemon juice to taste. Generously spread the icing on each cake layer. If you feel like it, decorate the cake with pecan nuts and a bit of graham cracker crumb.

Carrot Cake

carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Tip: Don’t do what I did and frost the cake when it wasn’t completely cool. I had too many little fingers trying to sample the cake I had to frost it and hide it from them. After leaving the cake in the fridge for about an hour, the icing and cake firmed up. You can tell from the pictures the icing was starting to melt!!!

This cake was inspired by Smitten Kitchen, carrot graham layer cake. I made the recipe my own, but if you want to see the original click on the link .

Veggies pizza on cauliflower crust

Let’s talk vegetables, either we love then or hate them. We want our kids to eat them and from time to time we check ourselves and wonder how long ago did I ate at least 5 a day? I remember certain vegetables that I used to hate, Brussels sprouts were one of them, and now I can’t get enough of them. We all tend to go trough phases with certain dishes and food where we dislike and after a while began to like and sometime even love.

Some foods have a certain acquired taste to them and you have to try them multiple times before you realize, hey this isn’t terrible after all. That is why we should offer a variety of food to our kids even if they claimed they don’t like it, because they do, they just don’t know it yet! Don’t get discouraged with the constant “I don’t like this”, ask them to eat a few bites and only a few bites of the repulsive food item each time to prepare it.

cauliflower crust pizza

Speaking of veggies and trying something new, I have seen these cauliflower pizza crust all over pinterest and other social media, I have to admit they got be curious but was a bit apprehensive about trying to make it. We are a vegetables loving family, and thinking of preparing this meal and risking wasting precious yummy veggies was a bit painful.

Anna Jones , Gluten-Free Pizza did stood out to me, and for this recipe it was my inspiration.

cauliflower

Cauliflower crust

  1. Medium size cauliflower
  2. 1 1/2 cups of old fashion oats
  3. 1 cup ground almond
  4. 1 1/5 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp oregano
  6. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. grated (or vegan cheese)
  7. 2-3 eggs ( or Flax Vegan eggs substitute )

Cut the cauliflower into pieces and with a food processor chop until it resemble tiny grain of rice, add the remaining ingredients omitting the eggs. Run the food processor until everything is well blended together. add enough eggs until it forms a soft dough.

Spread the dough on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spread evenly into a thin layer.Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is dry to the touch and golden in color.

Cauliflower pizza crust

Tomatoes Sauce

  1. 1/2 can of tomatoes
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 clove garlic
  5. bunch of basil or (1 1/2 tsp of dry basil)

This part is easy, put everything in the food processor and blend until combined. Spread evenly onto the cauliflower crust.

tometoes sauce

homemade pizza sauce

Pizza toppings

  1. 2 spring of swiss chard
  2. 1/4 cup spinach
  3. 1/2 cup fennel, tiny sliced
  4. 1/2 half of mozzarella ball ( or vegan cheese )
  5. 1 tbsp honey
  6. grated Parmesan (or vegan cheese)
  7. a few squeeze of a lemon juice
  8. fennel branches and leaves for garnish

fennel

Tear some Mozzarella and sprinkle over the sauce. Cut the Swiss-chard and spinach in small pieces and add to the pizza and add the fennel on top. Drizzle some honey and bake for another 10 to 12 min.

mozzarella veggie pizza

When the pizza is baked, squeeze some lemon juice over the pizza, grate some Parmesan to taste and add the leaves of fennel.

Pizza

Veg Pizza

cauliflower pizza

Slices and serve warm.

First impression 

Now I know what you are all waiting for, how was it?

Out of the four of us 2 liked it and 2 didn’t hate it but after 1 slice were done. The crust did hold it’s shape and you are able to pick it up and eat it like a dough pizza crust. the flavor combo worked for us but might not for everybody. Chard is really earthy flavor but combines well with tomatoes and the anise flavor of the fennel and lemon was a nice tangy-ness to balanced the sweetness. If I could have change anything I would have probably added onions and feta cheese and perhaps black olives.

Chewy chocolate chips cookies

I don’t know about you, but here, chocolate chip cookies is the ultimate comfort food.

When our day isn’t going as plan or we just want to cheer the mood up, the rich aromas of baking chocolaty cookies and a sure way to turn the frown upside down. I could write more about it but I know why you are here, so let’s get to the recipe shall we.

stack of cookies

Ingredients 

  • 2  1/4 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter room temperature (can be substituted with margarine )
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips

How to:

Preheat the oven at 350

IMG_0758 IMG_0762 IMG_0766

In a bowl add the sugars and butter and cream together until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well mix. I a clean bowl add the dry ingredients and mix, add the flour mixture until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

IMG_0771IMG_0778

Drop small ice cream scoop full the dough unto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 17 minutes or until the edges are golden grown.Remove from the cookie sheet and transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.

Serve with a tall glass of milk and you don’t need to worry about trying to store them, they will be gone before the end of day!

chocolate chip cookies

This recipe will make 12 medium size soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies. For smaller cookies, drop about 1 tablespoon of the dough and bake for 8 to 10 min.

Tips: We all have different preferences when it comes to cookie texture, soft and chewy, crispy or cakey.  For tin and crisp increase the butter to 1 1/3 cup  and sugar will be 1 1/4 cups of both sugars and for cakey reduce the butter to 3/4 cup change the sugar for 3/4 cup  white sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

This information was taken a while ago from a Martha Steward magazine but you could probably find it online somewhere.

Quick and easy Curry Dahl

I think that we often daydream about visiting foreign destinations, to soak in the culture, visit scenery that otherwise we couldn’t fully appreciate, and of course experience the smell and taste of the local cuisine. Not all of us have the opportunities to travel the world, but we are so fortunate to be in the day and age of electronic information. With a simple click on the fingers we and be transported via the web to locations thousands miles away, all from the comfort of our own home.

We also have the options to taste international cuisine in specialty restaurant, but if you want to stay within a simple budget, you can recreate the taste of the far away land right here in your kitchens.

Dahl

When I think of curry dishes, India, comes to mind. The fragrance of roasting curry powder, cumin seeds, ginger, and butter at the start of your curry dishes will transport you to a whole new world.

Lentils are a staples in South Asian cuisine but also are found throughout the world. Did you know that Canada is the number one exporter of lentils, farmers for the prairies are each years making their contribution helping numerous countries with this healthy legumes.

Did you know that eating a legumes like lentils with grains are a complete protein? We are by all means not a vegetarian family but being able to feed my family complete meals without meat is very budget friendly. There is so many different possibilities on how to prepare legumes and beans.

Today I am sharing one of my “Quick and easy red lentil Dahl” in about 30 minutes this dish can be on the table. It’s fulling, tasty and yes very easy.

What you will be needing

curry spices

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 inch of fresh frozen ginger, grated
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups of red lentils
  • 6 cups of water
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to:

Brown the butter (ie Melt the butter over medium heat until it’s all bubbly and reach a golden brown color.  Watch closely, the browning butter is can burn easily) When the butter has reach the coloration desired add in the onion, stir for about 2 min.

frying spices

Add the curry powder, cumin seeds, salt and pepper flakes. When the onion are mostly cooked add the cinnamon, fresh ginger and red lentils and stir until they are all coated with the butter onion spices mixture then add the water.

curry

Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until lentils are soft. Squeezed the juice of the lemon  add salt and pepper to taste and serve over basmatie rice or with Nan or Roti (will be sharing how to make those soon)

Dahl curry

If you find that the curry is too spicy for your  or your kids taste buds, serve a generous spoon of plain yogurt over the dahl, or replace some of the water with a can of coconut milk.

Tips : When cooking lentils or legumes remember that acidity aren’t best friend during the cooking process but they become best buddies as a finish touch. Add acidity before the cooking has begun and lentils will not get soft and the texture will be off even after one or plus hours of cooking. Tomatoes, vinegar and lemon juice with brighten the flavors of any legumes dish when sprinkled on the dish just before serving.