I frequently find myself standing in the pantry, staring at the shelves, trying to remember what it was that I needed from the pantry in the first place. If I don't make a list when I go to the grocery store, chances are I will come home with a car full of groceries and I will have forgotten the one item I went for. I recently started reading a book and realized it seemed familiar; I had read it three years ago and didn't remember it.
What I'm saying is that Still Alice fills me with terror.
In other ways, however, my mind is a steel trap. For example, I have a very large catalogue of song lyrics in my head, just taking up space that would probably be better put to use by remembering things at the grocery store. The most random and obscure lyrics reside in my brain, and that, along with my terrible but passionate singing voice and my love of dancing makes for a very interesting kitchen disco.
You see, I always have music on while cooking, which leads to a one-woman kitchen dance party. In my mind's eye, I look like this:
But the reality is, I look like this:
My Scottish-Norwegian forefathers were not exactly known for their hip swivels and spicy food, but here we are.
My hips don't lie and neither does this spicy black bean dip. It's the perfect accompaniment to crudites or tortilla chips, and it can be used as a spread for a veggie wrap or a sandwich as well. Best of all, it's spicy.
And if I can't be spicy myself, the next best thing is to make a delicious spicy dip.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Who can resist a good dip? I cannot! Try my Holy Moly Best Ever Guacamole, my Hot! Hot! Hot! Fresh Salsa, or my Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.
I'm always on the lookout for meals that can be made in a flash for busy weeknights. I absolutely love recipes that utilize roasted vegetables not only because roasting brings out the rich flavour of vegetables, but also because it is so easy — there's no sauteeing or stir-frying — you simply stick the baking sheet in the oven and wait until the veggies are done.
Really, the only time-consuming thing about roasting vegetables is the chopping. I love butternut squash, but peeling them seems to take me forever. Am I alone on this? My mother purchased me a fancy vegetable peeler, which helps a lot, but I still need to listen to Eye of the Tiger when I'm peeling and chopping a butternut squash, just to keep my motivation up.
Then, the other day, I discovered that you can actually buy cubed butternut squash! Sure, it's more expensive, but as my grandma used to say, "You want convenience, you're going to have to pay for it." It's still cheaper than celery (what is UP with that, celery?). Whether you peel your squash or you buy it pre-cubed, this meal will still be on the table in less that forty-five minutes - and do I even need to say that it's packed with nutrition? Tons of protein, fibre, and vitamins? It's a scrumptious, savoury, bowl of good health. So get those veggies in the oven and have a glass of wine while they roast - wine is good for you too!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare brown rice according to package directions.
While rice is cooking, toss butternut squash and zucchini in 2 tablespoons of olive oil; toss chickpeas in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Arrange butternut squash, zucchini, and chickpeas in a single layer on 3 baking sheets. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Place in oven and roast 25-30 minutes.
While the rice is cooking and the vegetables are roasting, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
Drink a glass of wine, supervise homework, or browse Facebook while waiting for the vegetables and rice to finish.
Fluff the rice with a fork; spoon vegetables and chickpeas over the rice. Drizzle with dressing, and enjoy!
This is also delicious cold, the next day. If leftovers are anticipated, keep chickpeas and dressing separate until just before serving.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Want more butternut squash? Who can blame you? Try my Roasted Squash and Chickpea Coconut Curry, my Roasted Squash, Quinoa, and Kale Salad, or my Creamy Butternut Squash Soup.
Every Sunday I make a big dinner for our family, and that includes dessert. My children take turns choosing the dessert each week; sometimes they choose a tried and true recipe, like banana "ice cream" or a chocolate mousse pie, but often they come up with random, never-before-heard-of ideas. Hey, I'm always up for a challenge!
Last summer, my younger son said that he wanted a strawberry cake. I thought he meant an angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries, but that wasn't it at all. He told me that he really wanted to try a cake with strawberries baked right in, like a carrot cake, but with strawberries. I had never attempted anything like that before, but after a few trials, I had it down. This is a delicious, not-too-sweet cake that can be made vegan or not, depending on your preferences. It goes wonderfully with coconut whipped cream, or layered with buttercream or cream cheese frosting. However you slice it, it's bliss!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray or grease two 8x8 square baking pans (8 inch round pans work as well).
Cream together butter (or coconut oil), sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.
Beat in eggs (or flax eggs) until well blended. Add strawberry puree and mix well.
Mix in baking powder and flour until combined.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool before topping with coconut whipped cream, vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting (recipe below).
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
Cream together cream cheese and butter until combined. Add vanilla and icing sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.
Place one cake top side down on a plate. Spread with frosting; place the other cake on top, top side up. Spread the top with frosting.
Let them eat cake! Especially this scrumptious Best Vanilla Cake, these Not-Plain-Vanilla Cupcakes, or these Pumpkin Spice Mini-Cakes.