Easy Vegan Lentil “Burgers” March 30, 2010

And so the love affair with lentils continues.  I wanted something to compliment my other half’s MEAT night BBQ, seeing as it was an even 50/50 split for the veggies and the carnivores.  I’ve made a bunch of meatless burgers (or patties if you’re offended by that term), and it’s always a challenge to get them to stay in one piece and not crumble apart.  Well my dears, this worked beautifully!  I just modified a few of the usual methods/ingredients, and what resulted was a hearty, tasty and totally vegan lentil burg that I’ve been enjoying for 2 days now (yes, made a HUGE batch).  Anyhoodle, give these ones a go, and serve ’em with your FAVE sauces … and say HELLO to BBQ season!!!





1 cup dry red lentils
1 cup water
1 cup stock
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 medium carrot or zucchini, diced
3 tbsp tomato sauce
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp curry OR chili powder (or any other spice you’d like)

Meal: ¾ cup bread crumbs OR rolled oats OR ground almonds mixed with nutritional yeast – finely ground

extra meal (about 2-3 tbsp)





1) Sauté the onion, garlic and zucchini (or carrots) in oil until soft, about 5 minutes.

2) Place the lentils, stock, water, tomato sauce, spices and salt in with onion/garlic, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until water is nearly gone and lentils are very soft.

3) Stir in additional salt and pepper (per taste) and allow lentil mixture to cool (about 30 min) then mix in the ground “meal” of your choice.

4) Place additional “meal” in a small dish; form lentil mixture into “burgers” and coat with crumbs on all sides.

5) Cook and serve with zesty sauce (I used a delish vegan hemp mayonnaise by BFF made for me) Cooking options:
(A) In a frying pan, heat a bit of oil (do not use olive oil), place burgers on top and fry until brown (about 2 minutes per side).
(B) In a 400ºF oven, bake the burgers on a greased baking sheet until light brown (about 15 minutes total), flipping once mid-way through.


Note – these store really well for up to a week!


Homage to Aunt Marg!! Mac’n’cheese and Buttery Raisin Scones January 28, 2010

So growing up I was lucky enough to have all 4 grandparents PLUS an extra couple of great aunts that basically were like yet another pair grandparents (all lived within a 20 min radius).  Lucky – you think?? I was super close with my Aunt Marg, and spent many a weekend and vacation with her … and she’s mostly the reason I got into cooking and baking as a young kid.  She was an old fashioned chef with the tastiest classics under her belt.  I could always expect my favaourite meal of the year on my birthday – mac ‘n’ cheese and warm buttery scones.  Don’t ask.  So, when it came time for my brothers birthday a few weeks ago, I offered to make him a tasty meal in honour of our good old Aunt Marg (she passed quite suddenly 6 years ago), and he was like a little kid he beamed with glee.  What was the result?  One banging dinner the entire fam enjoyed… beyond delish and so reminiscent of dinners with Aunt Marg we were all taken back to over-heated apartments and the soft laugh she bellowed so often.  What’s your favourite childhood meal?





2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

¼ cup TBSP butter

2 ½ TBSP flour

2 cups shredded OLD cheddar cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups milk (I used 1%)

½ cup bread crumbs (I used multigrain)

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste



1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions, then rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.

2. In a large stove-top & oven-friendly casserole pot (I use my big Le Crueset for this), melt butter over medium heat, and then sauté onion and garlic for 3-4 min until soft (not browned!), then stir in flour and combine.

3. In a separate small pot, bring milk to a steam (not boil!) then add milk slowly to onion/garlic/flour mixture, stirring constantly, and lightly simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in cheeses and cayenne pepper to casserole pot, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick, adding salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove from heat and add macaroni to casserole dish, and stir well, then sprinkle with bread crumbs to cover completely.

6. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, then place under broiler for a few minutes until top is slightly browned.

7.  Allow to cool for 5-10 min before serving, and serve HOT!



I always wanted scones with my mac’n’cheese – I still love the combo for some reason.  So buttery and so comforting, these scones are juicy with raisins, and are a semi-sweet treat you can enjoy all on their own too.  I loved to wipe up all the leftover cheese in the bottom of my bowl with these.  Oh good grief – huge cravings now!



2 cups flour (use regular white if you can)

2 TBSP baking powder

2 TBSP sugar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup COLD butter (I then use a grater and grate the butter in for easier mixing)

¾ cup raisins

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg white, lightly beaten OR 1 TBSP butter melted



1) Preheat oven to 425F, and mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.

2) Grate in butter until mixture is like large crumbs, then stir in raisins and buttermilk.

3) Drop dough (using a ¼ cup measuring cup – or very large spoons) onto a greased baking sheet, brush tops with egg whites OR butter and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

4) Remove from oven and serve immediately!


Incredible Italiano Veggie Lasagna December 1, 2009

Making homemade lasagna may seem like an exercise in blood sweat and tears – but it’s all well worth it in the end, and once you’ve made it a few times, it’ll all come together in a snap.  I’ve tried to make the process as simple as possible here, without sacrificing any of the necessary steps required for a tasty dish that will leave you and your guests sated and elated beyond belief!  You could skip making the homemade sauce and use pre-cooked noodles and get a good result … but if you want the spectacular … you’re just going to have to be patient.  Have a BIG glass of wine and play your favourite tunes right through the process – and enjoy!



1 box of good quality lasagna noodles

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 head broccoli, finely chopped

1 large zucchini, finely chopped

12 crimini or button mushrooms, finely chopped

2 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp each dried basil and parsley

1 tsp salt


1 x 16 oz can diced tomatoes

1 x 3 oz can tomato paste

1 x 500ml tub of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated



1)  Boil water and follow the package cooking directions of the lasagna noodles – and set aside once cooked.

2)  Chop onion and garlic, and sauté in a very large saucepan along with olive oil until well browned and translucent.

3)  Add the can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and dried herbs to the onion and garlic pan, and simmer until well heated (about 10 min).

4)  In a separate pan, heat to medium-high and sauté broccoli, zucchini and mushroom in a bit of olive oil until softened and vibrant in colour – near the end sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the spinach and cook until wilted.

5)  In a large bowl, slightly beat the 2 eggs, then mix in ricotta cheese, and combine until smooth.

6)  Using a 13 x 9 glass baking dish, spoon the simmered tomato sauce into the bottom to barely cover – set aside 2-3 tbsp of sauce for the very end.

7)  Layer noodles into pan, then follow with 1/3 of the roasted vegetables, then 1/3 of the ricotta/egg mixture, then 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, then 1/3 of the tomato sauce.

8)  Repeat these layers until you are left with only the top layer of the noodles – then drizzle with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

9)  Bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes, until nice and bubbly.

10) Remove from heat and allow to set for at least 20-30 minutes!  NOTE – You can re-heat slightly if it’s too cool, but it needs to set in order to slice properly.

11)  Serve in gorgeous big bowls and enjoy with some crusty bread!


– Feel free to swap in and out any vegetables you like.  Carrots can be swapped for the zucchini, and you could add cauliflower or eggplant for a nice switch too.

– Using fat-free cheese won’t work really, but you can get away with using lower-fat version.  If you can’t find ricotta, use cottage cheese instead, but always go for the ricotta if you can.


Coconut Layer Cake June 2, 2009

Filed under: My bakery — s mcdowall @ 7:25 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I made this cake for my Mom’s birthday recently, and it was a big hit.  Bear in mind, the woman is one tough cookie to please culinarily wise, so the fact that it went over so well is a pretty good indicator of the greatness of this cake!  If you love coconut like I do, then this will be a little slice of heaven for you.  WARNING: hard to say ‘NO’ to seconds.



2 1/4 cups cake flour or plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp coconut or vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1/2 dairy and 1/2 rice)

1/2 cup egg whites (it’s about 3-4 large eggs, separated)


Buttery-coconut filling and icing:

 1 cup powdered sugar

 approx 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

 approx. 1/2 cup coconut milk

 For garnish: sweetened shredded coconut




1. Grease two 8″ round cake pans and preheat the oven to 350F, then sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt onto a plate.

 2. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy, and then add in the extract.

 3. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and egg whites.

4. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to butter, mix until smooth.

5. Add in 1/2 egg white mixture and then add in 1/3 of the flour mixture – beat well!

6. Add in remaining liquid and flour mix, and combine until well incorporated (you may want to use a hand beater for this).

7. Divide batter between 2 cake pans and bake for 30-35 min, or until done.

8. Cool cake in pans for about 5 min and then cool on the racks. 


*To make filling/icing:

1) Mix room-temp butter with 1 TBSP of coconut milk and a fewe tsp of icing sugar and combine well.

2) Continue adding icing sugar, until more liquid is needed (it’ll get really clumpy).  Add in a little coconut milk and butter at a time, interspersing with icing sugar, until you get the desired consistency (should be perfect for spreading). 


*To layer the cake:

1) Once completely cooled, slice each layer of the cake horizontally into half into 4 slices – place one layer on a cake platter.

2) Spread with 1/4 of icing on it – then top with another layer of cake and repeat.

3) Place the last layer on top and spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing. NOTE – I WAS IN A RUSH, SO THIS TIME I SKIPPED 4 LAYERS, AND JUST DID 2.

4) Sprinkle and press sweetened coconut all over the outside of the cake.

5) Chill cake for 1-2 hrs to set icing and coconut – then serve at room temperature (it will keep nicely in fridge for a few days as well).



Eggplant Pasta Bake May 1, 2009

I am a pasta-holic.  Along with coffee and wine, pasta is one of my top vices – most definitely.  So, I try to make it only once (okay, maybe twice) per week, and as healthy as I can.  That said, here is my take on an easy casserole style pasta dish that is loaded with flavour and other than some fat from the cheese (which is good in my books), it’s a healthy way to add some fibre, veggies, and cozy-food goodness into your day.  And oh yes, this pairs deliciously well with a gorgeous Pinot Noir!!!


2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
salt (to sprinkle)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2 + 3/4 cups tomato sauce
6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated


1) Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8-10 min, until tender but firm, then drain and return to same saucepan. Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with salt, and place on wire rack set on a baking sheet.

3) Let eggplant stand for about 15-20 min, then rinse with cold water and blot dry (tea-towel or paper-towels will do).

4) Brush both sides of eggplant slices lightly with olive oil, and cook eggplant on greased grill or BBQ for 2-3 min per side until golden.

5) Transfer grilled eggplant to cutting board or large plate, and cut into 1 inch pieces, then add to pasta.

6) Heat olive oil in small frying pan on medium – add onion and cook for 5-10 min (stirring often) until softened.

7) Add onion to pasta, stir, then add tomato sauce, Roma tomatoes, basil pesto and stir again.

8] Transfer everything into greased 3 quart casserole dish (bust out the Le Crueset!!!), sprinkle with both cheeses and bake uncovered, in 350°F oven for 30-40 min until heated through and cheese is bubbly and golden.

9) Let stand for 5 min before serving – then enjoy!!



Quinoa Egg Bake March 26, 2009

For all you quiche lovers that just can’t handle regular crust – here’s the answer to your prayers!  The quinoa in this recipe gets baked in the oven so it doesn’t even need to be precooked. It just settles into the bottom of the pan and creates a moist, crunchy crust.  Lots of protein and spinachy-goodness make this a super-healthy meal that takes no time to prep … that’s 100% gluten-free!


1 tsp butter

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

6-7 eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1 tbsp chopped garlic (about 3 large cloves)

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 cups packed baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 cup finely shredded Parmesan or old cheddar cheese


1) Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease an 8 x 8 in. glass (or a Le Crueset – my personal fave dish ever – see image) baking dish with butter; set aside.

2) Place quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse until cold running water until water runs clear, then drain well.

3) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and quinoa, stir in chopped spinach, then pour mixture into prepared dish.

4) Cover dish tightly with foil then gently pound or jiggle dish from side to side so that quinoa settles on the bottom in an even layer.

5) Bake until j

ust set, about 40 minutes.

6) Remove foil, sprinkle top evenly with cheese, then return to oven and bake, uncovered, until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes more.

7) Set aside to let cool briefly, then slice and serve.



Beer Bread January 21, 2009

Filed under: Hug a cow (dairy-free),My bakery — s mcdowall @ 10:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Beer + bread = happy Healthyhag!  This idiot-proof, insanely delish bread can be served with soups, stews or just as a snack.  Warning: don’t expect it to be around very long once you and your freinds/family get a taste of it!  My latest addiciton.



3 cups flour, sifted – key to success! (you can use whole wheat or regular)

3 tsps baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)

1 tsp salt (again, omit if using Self-Rising Flour)

1/4 cup sugar

1 can or bottle of beer (approx. 12 OZ or 341ml)

1/3 cup melted butter (use margerine is you’re a dairy-free kinda kid)



1) Preheat oven to 375F.

2) Mix dry ingredients, then and beer.

3) Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, then pour melted butter over mixture (it’ll swim in it a wee bit)

4) Bake 50-60 min, remove from pan and cool for at least 10 minutes – if you can.

NOTES: Sifting flour for this s a must!  Skipping sifting will turn your bread into a brick or weapon of mass destruction.  If you do not have a sifter, use a spoon to spoon the flour into the 1 cup measure. It works, but isn’t as effective as sifting.  The final result should be a nice dense, thick, hearty and very tasteful bread, NOT A PUCKbread!