Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vegan(ish) mac and cheese

Coming out of the oven. 

Daiya cheese has really brought me back to the world of over-processed cheese. It basically tastes like Kraft cheese slices, but hey. Every once in a while I want something junky.

This recipe puts a LITTLE healthiness into it.

  • 1 box (4 servings) macaroni. Or any other short, pasta, like rotini (in the pic)
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 leek
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter, or vegan substitute
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 package Daiya mozzarella shreds
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Let's do it!
  1. Prepare the pasta according to the package, less 1 minute. Drain and rinse.
  2. Remove the spines from the kale and discard, chop leaves finely.
  3. Chop white parts of the leeks. Discard green parts.
  4. Melt butter in the pan in medium heat, fry veggies until soft.
  5. Add coconut milk, Daiya, ground mustard, sundried tomatoes and salt. Mix together until the Daiya has melted.
  6. Taste and add more salt, or pepper, to your taste.
  7. Mix together the veggies with sauce and pasta.
  8. Put mixture in a large casserole and cover with breadcrumbs.
  9. Place under a broiler and keep a close watch. Take it out of the oven when the top is slightly brown.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter BBQ Sauce

After making Chuck's BBQ Sauce a couple of times, I was emboldened to make my own with tasty, winter holiday ingredients. This sauce is sweet, spicy, tangy and absolutely delicious. It goes GREAT on ribs, but will probably be amazing on chicken and anything else. This sauce takes time, patience and a blender.

1 large onion, sliced thin
10 or so fresh cranberries
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider
3 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped (or less if you don't like it spicy, but you definitely want to add some for the smokiness)
1 tb maple syrup
1 tb soy sauce
1 tb white vinegar
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tb bacon grease, or vegetable oil

Makes roughly 1.5 cups

Let's do it!
  1. Add bacon grease to a saucepan and heat on medium-low. Add onions and fry until very very soft and caramelized. They'll be a soft, light brown mess. This may take about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir and don't let them burn!
  2. Add garlic and cranberries and stir until the cranberries split open.
  3. Add everything else and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until it all melds together.
  4. Taste it. You'll want it to be a nice, full, balanced flavour. If it seems bland, add more soy sauce. If you'd like it to be a bit more sour, add more vinegar. Not sweet enough? More syrup. Make sure to add these a teaspoon at a time, and pour it in the teaspoon over a bowl or something, and not over the sauce. That's the easiest way to ruin your hard work.
  5. Take it off the stove and let it cool down a bit.
  6. Put it all in a blender and liquify it. If it's still warm, loosen the top plastic thing (the one you can take out to add stuff in while blending) and put a clean rag over it before blending. Otherwise, it might explode into a literal hot mess.
  7. Use to marinate food before and after cooking, put it on the table when eating, and/or store in a mason jar up to a week or so.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Curry noodle soup - Sick at home edition

If you're truly, horrendously sick, you'll have to had done some planning before making this. Hopefully you have most of these items in your house, like homemade broth in your freezer, coconut milk in your cupboard, curry paste and noodles. You should also have some vegetables and proteins hanging around in general. And if you're sick, you need to have lemons/limes so you can drink lemon honey water all day. Anyway, I'm rambling. And possibly feverish. So let's go.


  • Homemade broth, or the stuff in cartons, which for some reason taste better than canned to me
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp curry paste, or to taste. I made a batch of Penang curry paste and keep it in my freezer.
  • Chopped up meat or tofu 
  • Chopped up veggies (I had some zucchini lying around)
  • Noodles, prepared according to the package. I used Korean sweet potato noodles.
  • Optional: cilantro and lime

Let's do it!

  1. Put coconut milk in a small soup pot with curry paste. Stir until well combined.
  2. Add broth, until it's the consistency you like.
  3. Add veggies and meat/tofu. Simmer until cooked through.
  4. Put cooked noodles in your bowl.
  5. Pour soup over noodles, garnish with lime and cilantro. Season to taste with salt/soy sauce or fish sauce. 

If you've got a well stocked kitchen, this should be totally doable, despite being feverish.

Serves 3.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pan Asian Submarine

I've been craving Vietnamese subs, Korean food and vegetarian food lately. What to do? Put them all together in a crazy-delicious sub, of course! Basically everything here is a Vietnamese sub staple, but with Korean kimchi and Chinese egg tofu added.

Vietnamese sub
Some kimchi, purchased or homemade
Pickled daikon radish, purchased or homemade
Egg tofu

Let's do it!.. Lunch it up!
This whole thing is put together at work (if you have a toaster oven there). I packed the kimchi and daikon together, the coriander separate, the egg tofu in the little sausage case it comes with and the bread in a bag (that does NOT go in the fridge). I do this because I have a big problem with soggy bread, so I like my sandwiches to be made and eaten with the least amount of time in between as possible.
  1. Slice up the egg tofu into maybe 1/2" rounds and lay them on a piece of foil. I broiled them in the toaster oven until they darkened a bit. I only did this because I wasn't sure if you could eat these without cooking or not.
  2. Cut the bun almost the whole way through, open it and place it face down in the toaster oven and toast it.
  3. Put everything inside. Come on, I don't need to tell you how to make a sub.
So yes, you can make this ahead and eat it at work, if you don't have a toaster oven and if you're not quite as anal about bread integrity as I am.

Here's a pic of the little tofu-lets in the toaster oven. And yes, my coworkers do think I'm a bit too intense about food.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lainey-style Gumbo

That's right, I have a pretty sweet cutting mat at work.

Full disclosure: I've never had gumbo anywhere else but my own home. For all I know, this recipe tastes NOTHING like the real deal. But it's loosely based on a gumbo recipe I found online, that also mentioned that everyone's gumbo is different, depending on the ingredients you like to use. So I'm going for it.

Call it what you like, it's definitely tasty. So here we go!

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oil
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup veggies (I used a turnip)
3 bay leaves
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
6 sausages (I used chorizo), sliced into rounds
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (but use whatever beans you like)
3 cups or so chicken stock
1 can/jar diced tomatoes

Let's do it!
  1. Heat up a soup pot with oil until it moves around the pot really quickly if you tip it. Add flour and whisk/stir with a wooden spoon for at least 25 minutes in low heat until it gets nice and dark. This is the roux that will thicken the gumbo.
  2. Add all veggies into the pot and stir until onions are translucent. 
  3. Add spices.
  4. Add sausage and let them cook in the bottom of the pan for a few minutes.
  5. Add beans, tomatoes and enough chicken stock to cover everything. Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour or so.
  6. Serve over rice.
Makes about 6 servings.

Easy? So easy. Yummy? SO YUMMY.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Barbecued Chipotle Chicken and Mashed Potato Salad

First, apologies for taking FOREVER to write a new post. It's been an insane two months with new projects and our first-ever home purchase. Lunch Lady Lainey and the Hubster are now homeowners.

Due to the deliciously unseasonable weather, I was able to barbecue a couple of days ago and came up with an amazingly tasty recipe for spicy chicken.

Chipotle Chicken Thighs
24 chicken thighs (I had guests over. Scale the recipe down as you need to. This fed six people, plus leftovers for a couple of day's lunch and dinner. I'm sure you could freeze them after they're cooked as well.)
1/2 7 oz. can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp or more orange juice

Let's do it!
If you're cooking on a grill, it's important to trim the excess fat off the chicken, otherwise, the grease will drip down and catch on fire, resulting in less tasty, burnt chicken.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add more orange juice to keep things spinning.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix. Let this marinate for at least 20 minutes. The longer, the better.

Turn on the grill, let it heat up and clean it. My grill gets incredibly hot, so I keep it on the lowest setting. Splash some water on the grill to see if it's hot. If it sizzles, you're good to go. Place the chicken on the grill top, skin side down. Cook for maybe 5 minutes, close the lid, then turn over and cook for another 5, with the lid closed. If the chicken is sticking to it, it means that you need to let it cook a little longer. Cut the chicken along the bone to see if it's cooked. If not, keep it on for longer. I tend to undercook things, so I'm not really the best judge of cooking times. If you're not sure, cut open a piece and take a look.

The chicken came out tender, really juicy with a spicy kick to it. If you can't handle hot wings, then this recipe is too spicy for you. If not, yachtzee! The marinade will probably also work great with pork, in a slow cooker or oven. But that's a recipe for another day.

This chicken reheats well and is also amazing cold (if you like eating chicken cold), which means it will probably make an appearance at quite a few picnic pot lucks this summer. The Hubster took the meat off the bone and ate his in a wrap with veggies, which he raved over via text. Clearly, this recipe is a crowd pleaser.

Mashed Potato Salad
4 potatoes, washed, skin on
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 onion, minced
2 sundried tomatoes, diced (I used the kind that comes in oil, not the dried variety)
1 tbsp relish

Let's do it!
Cut the potatoes into thick slices and cook in boiling water until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to dry a bit.

In a large bowl, combine the mayo, onion, sundried tomatoes and relish. Add the potatoes to the mixture and toss to combine. The potatoes will start breaking up on their own, giving it a mashed consistency. Leave it as lumpy as you like. I find this less stressful than regular potato salad, where I really try to keep them in cube form. Yes, I realize how ridiculous it is to get stressed out about the consistency of potatoes.

This dish tastes great warm or cold, making it my go-to for BBQs. It's also dead easy. You can put whatever you want in it: capers, olives, fresh herbs. I always use mayo and relish as the base and add whatever I have on hand for extra flavour.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Slow-cooker chili

Holy cow, I've finally done it! The worst food photo ever seen by human eyes!

Hearty, filling and warm, this is the easiest thing to make in the world. All you need is a few ingredients, a slow cooker, 15 minutes to prep the stuff and 6 hours to let it cook by itself. And you will be happy. SO HAPPY.

2 tbsp chili powder (make your own or buy it ready-made. I suspect the ready-made stuff is full of food colouring and stuff, though)
1 large can (about 3 cups) tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 can kidney beans, or whatever beans you like. Rinsed and drained
1 onion, diced
1 lb meat. I used ground pork but you can use whatever you like.
salt to taste
hot sauce/peppers
Optional: any diced up veggies.

Let's do it!
Put your slow cooker to medium and throw in the chili powder, tomato sauce, bay leaf and beans. Stir it together.

In a pan, saute the onions in a bit of oil until they're translucent. Transfer to the slow cooker.

In the same pan, brown the meat and transfer to the slow cooker (drain it out first if you don't like fat in your food.)

This is a good time to add any other veggies you want to put in there. Chili is a great way to use up leftover veggies or meat provided they don't have a ton of other spices/flavours in them.

Let it cook while you do something else for a few hours. You know, like your job.

Taste, add salt. This recipe isn't very spicy since I made it with my entire family in mind. If you like spicy, you can add some fresh chili peppers when you're putting everything in the slow cooker.