Cooking diet recipes vegan

Vegan Chickpea Curry Soup

Vegan Chickpea Curry Soup(Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free)

I always try to keep chickpeas on hand. I buy dried chickpeas in bulk, soak 3-4 cups of them overnight and then rinse them and boil them for 1.5 hours the next day. Once cooled, I freeze them in 2 cup measurements in Ziploc baggies. Then, whenever I want chickpeas, I just defrost a baggie and boom, the chickpeas are ready to go. I throw them into curries, soups, sprinkle them over our salads, mush them up to make falafels or roast them until crispy and snack on them. Sometimes when it’s just a soup, however, I’ll skip the defrosting step and just dump the baggie of frozen chickpeas into the hot liquid and allow them to defrost while cooking. 

This recipe was more of a what-do-I-have-in-the-fridge type of meal more so than something I set out to purposely make. It was late, I needed something for lunch the next day and wasn’t feeling venturing out in the snow to the grocery store for supplies. I’ve since tweaked it and cooked it many times since and we now frequently take it to work for lunch. 20160405_180903-2

1 tbs coconut oil

2 cups chickpeas

2-3 tomatoes, diced

1 onion, diced

1-1 1/2 tbs Yellow Curry Powder

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup of water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp each of ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Salt and pepper

  1. Fry the coconut oil over a medium heat with the onions and garlic until fragrant.
  2. Add curry powder, ginger, ground coriander, turmeric and garam masala (and cayenne if using) and stir. 
  3. Add chickpeas and tomatoes and stir for 1 minute. 
  4. Add coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. 
  5. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add more water if you think it is too dry. 

Serve with alone or with rice. 

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This refrigerates well however the coconut milk will solidify a little in the fridge so be sure to heat it up before eating it. It is also freezer friendly. I separate it into 2-person portions in Ziploc baggies, label and freeze flat. 

More Recipes: 

Irish Stew

Lucy’s Mum’s Chilli Con Carne

Spaghetti Bolognese 

Cooking diet food lactose free recipes

What We Ate This Month: January 2016


“Are you on a diet? This one looks less like cake.” – says the lady in the department next to mine, meaning well when asking if I wanted something from the tray of desserts she was toting around offering people.

This is probably the question I get asked the most. I decline food. I’m a decliner. I decline chocolate. I decline cake. I say ‘no thank you, I’m full from lunch’ to a vast array of cute and delicious looking mini treats that will make me tremendously ill due to my food intolerances.

This particular time, when asked if I was on a diet, I did my usual giggle and said, ‘No, of course not!’

One of her co-workers looks at me. 

“I can’t have dairy, chocolate, gluten, eggs or soy…so basically anything fun!”, I explain. 

He laughs and tells me there’s leftover Starbucks coffee in the kitchen, I should go help myself to some of that.

The second most asked question I get is, ‘Wait, so what DO you eat?!”.

THIS post is an attempt to answer that question.

I keep a meticulous track of our food. What we eat. What’s in the freezer. What food we have in the house and what I plan on doing with it. At the start of each month I do an inventory of our pantry and freezer and then everything I can make with the food and then everything I want to make that month. I have rarely, if ever, walked into a grocery not knowing what I needed, what I was going to use it for and which day I was going to use it. However, since the month and the meals are ever evolving sometimes the monthly plan changes and I swap meals around, get tired and resort to a simple stir-fry or pull something from the freezer that’s already cooked.

“Do you want 3/4 of a white onion?” – text from my neighbour offering me leftovers. 

I declined. Politely. I didn’t want to say ‘I’m not scheduled to need an onion until Wednesday’. 

We eat pretty simply and cheap. Healthy by proxy of disease and intolerances. Convenience is a big factor for me too. After working all day, I’m no more interested in creating a gourmet meal than I am in running a 25K marathon. Below you’ll find a list of the meals we ate in January first followed by further explanation of each dish. You’ll see a lot of meals doubled which just saves me time. Eat one now, eat one the following week and no cooking.You’ll also see a lot of stew just because I like to throw on a pot of stuff when I get home from work and then leave it to simmer away while I do other things. 

January 2016: What We Ate This Month

January 1st 2016: Loco Moco with Rice

January 2nd 2016: Spaghetti Bolognese

January 3rd 2016: Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Pineapple and Rice

January 4th 2016: Beef Stir-Fry and Rice

January 5th 2016: Irish Stew

January 6th 2016: Sausage Stir-Fry and Rice

January 7th  2016: Fricot

January 8th 2016: Chicken Drumsticks and Fries

January 9th 2016: Turkey Chilli and Rice

January 10th 2016: Loco Moco with Rice

January 11th 2016: Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables: We bought a baked ham for $5 on sale at the grocery store – we actually bought 4 of them and froze them – and we baked it. It took about 1.5hrs in the oven and required zero supervision from me. We had it along with mashed potatoes (with unsweetened cashew milk and dairy-free butter) and boiled carrots tossed in dairy-free butter and parsley. 

January 12th 2016: Leftover Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables – as above.

January 13th 2016: Chickpea & Sausage Stew with Rice

January 14th 2016: Meatballs and Pasta: Meatballs and Pasta: For the meatballs, I used this recipe and for the sauce, I used this recipe. 

January 15th 2016: Steak and Fries: We grilled up steaks along with baking frozen fries and had them alongside some peas. We also had Chimichurri sauce. We tried Chimichurri at The Keg when we were gifted $100 to spend there by The New Roomie and decided we would try make it at home. We bought some Argentinian Chimichurri mix from The Silk Road, Calgary, followed their instructions and spooned it over our cooked steaks. It’s been a staple ever since. 

January 16th 2016: Spaghetti Bolognese

January 17th 2016: Indian Butter Chicken Curry and Rice – From a packet, Asian Home Gourmet Indian Butter Chicken, except I substituted dairy-free butter for the butter and coconut milk for the yogurt. 

January 18th 2016: Meatballs and Pasta: For the meatballs, I used this recipe and for the sauce, I used this recipe

January 19th 2016: Beef Stir-Fry and Rice – For this one we tried a package sauce I bought at Co-Op. I would not recommend it.

January 20th 2016: Sausage and Pepper Pasta

January 21st 2016: Chicken Vindaloo Curry and Rice

January 22nd 2016: Chicken Drumsticks and Fries

January 23rd 2016: Sausage and Pepper Pasta

January 24th 2016: Eat Out: Fatburger – We had a Groupon. I had the lettuce wrapped Fatburger and a lemonade. 

January 25th 2016: Steak, Potato and Peas: Same steaks as January 15th, with mashed potatoes (with unsweetened cashew milk and dairy-free butter) and peas. 

January 26th 2016: Irish Stew

January 27th 2016: Eat Out: I was home late after being at a leaving party for a manager at work so we had Safeway Roast Chicken and McDonald’s Fries.

January 28th 2016: Chickpea and Sausage Stew with Rice

January 29th 2016: Beef Madras and Rice

January 30th 2016: Pork Chilli and Rice – I added some ground chipotle powder and some jalapeños. 

January 31st 2016: Eat at Friend’s House: We had Smashburger, who have the BEST website for people with food allergies. #fact.

*A note about rice: We have a rice cooker so for just the 2 of us eating, I throw in a half a cup of rice and let it cook away by itself while I’m preparing the rest of the meal.

*No, I am not sponsored by The Silk Road Spices, Calgary. I just really like their spices!

January 1st: LOCO MOCO

This is a Hawaiian dish The Canadian One fell in love with back in April when we were off in Oahu getting married (more on that another time). It’s basically white rice nestled under a hamburger and a fried egg and then covered in brown gravy. The versions he tried, and there were multiple over the week we were there including our wedding night dinner, also contained fried onions. The one at the Dole Plantation had the hamburger smothered in beef chilli which is the one I tried and loved.

Just to go back to the fact that he ate this on our wedding night.

Wedding Day!

We had, originally, booked a table in a fancy restaurant for the evening of our wedding. It was just to two of us so we figured we’d splurge on somewhere nice. However, the night before our wedding, we ate take out on our hotel balcony from a place opposite our hotel called Chai’s Waikiki Hawaiian Fusion. It was cheap, tasty, I could walk there and back in heels and there was a lot of food. I had the Grilled Hawaiian BBQ Chicken with Pineapple Salsa, Salad and Rice and he had the Loco Moco. The following day, we decided we wanted the take-out again and so we cancelled our fancy restaurant booking and headed to the take-out place in full wedding outfits, got our food (both getting the exact same orders from the night before), ate it on our balcony and then blew our fancy restaurant money on overpriced, colorful cocktails at the bars downstairs. It was glorious.


Moving on. 

A quick Google for Loco Moco recipes lead me down a rabbit hole of similar-yet-slightly-different variations of the dish so I came up with a kind of hybrid version. Since I can’t have dairy, gluten or egg, I used my own trusted recipe for hamburgers.


Previously, I covered how to make pork burgers and meatballs here. This recipe uses basically the same concept of same ingredients, different foods. If I’m making a big batch of this, I will usually use a combination of ground beef and ground pork but if I’m just making two burgers, I’ll use only ground beef.


To make what’s in the above picture, I used:

1kg ground beef

1kg ground pork

1tb garlic powder

1tb onion powder

A big squirt of tomato ketchup, BBQ sauce or some other kinda burger sauce – I used burger sauce I had in the fridge.

A large handful of breadcrumbs

4 tb of milk – I used unsweetened cashew milk…and I measured with a shot glass. So it was like 2 shots of milk but start with 1 shot and add as needed. 

Salt and pepper – just shake as much as you want in

Mix together. If it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it’s too dry, add more milk. Shape into whatever you are making: meatballs or hamburgers.

The recipe is pretty fluid. Sometimes I don’t add garlic. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I add paprika. Or chilli powder. Or oregano. Or nutritional yeast. I experiment a lot with different flavours. Sometimes I’ll just use ground beef and nothing else. 

Then I’ll cook the meatballs, cool them and freeze them in batches of 12 in the freezer. I make sure to bake at least 40 as a few invariably get eaten during the packing-into-the-freezer-baggie process.

RECIPE: LOCO MOCO – Makes 1 Meal for 2

Loco Moco is basically a bed of white rice with a hamburger nestled on top, a egg on top of that, fried onions sprinkled on the egg and gravy poured over the whole thing. Its beauty is in its simplicity. Cooking for more, add more burgers, rice and eggs. Easy. For two people, you will need: 

2 hamburgers

2 eggs

White rice

Sliced onions

Gravy – I guess any kind of beef gravy will do, I have my own recipe below. 

Usually I’ll make the white rice and some fried onions (slice onions, fry them in vegetable oil until crispy and golden) first and then I grill the burger. I leave the egg and the gravy to last. 

The gravy is a little more intricate: Add to pan (if you used a grill pan or frying pan to make the burgers, use that and scrape up all the lovely burger bits) 1 cup of beef stock, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (which is not always gluten free but has never harmed me so I just gloss over it), salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take off heat. Mix 1 tb of cornstarch with 2 tbs of water and add to pan. Return to heat. Whisk whisk whisk until thick. If you want thicker, add more cornstarch/water mixture, if you want thinner, add more water and whisk.

Construct Loco Moco: Rice then burger then onions then egg (if using) then pour gravy over it and then eat.


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January 3rd: SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS WITH PINEAPPLE AND RICE – Makes 1 Meal for 2 with leftovers

Sweet & Sour Anything is a difficult thing for us to eat. With The Canadian One being diabetic, the classic versions of Sweet & Sour sauce I kept coming across all contained sugar and sugar and sugar and pineapple juice, and that’s just not quite going to work for us. I found a nice recipe in The Joy of Cooking and set about adapting it as I had half a can of chopped pineapple leftover and I wanted to use it up. The only meat I could find to mix with is was the meatballs which I’d left out from the day before’s burger/meatball making bonanza to make with pasta sauce then changed my mind when I saw the pineapple in the fridge.

I love pineapple.

Sweet & Sour Anything with Pineapple and Rice – Adapted from Joy Of Cooking

For this recipe, I immediately started to see what I could sub out that was high in sugar. First to go was the actual sugar in the recipe. It called for 1/2 cup of sugar so I substituted a tablespoon of Splenda. For the 3/4 cup of pineapple juice I simply added 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice and froze the rest from the can. I added ½ cup of diced onion, 1 tb of No-Sugar Ketchup and cut down on the chicken stock and vinegar as there were just two of us.

1 cup chicken stock

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tb no-sugar ketchup (or any ketchup) 

2 tbs pineapple juice

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/3 cup white vinegar (or less to taste)

A sprinkle of salt

3-4 slices of pineapple, diced

1 tb cornstarch + 1 tb of water

Add a little oil to the pan. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn. Next you can add whatever raw meat (diced chicken, pork, beef) you are using and fry until lightly browned. If you are using cooked meat like meatballs or leftover chicken or ham, skip to the next step.

Add green pepper and stir-fry a little more. 

Next add all the other ingredients except the pineapple and cornstarch.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add pineapple and cooked meat if using. 

Simmer for 10-15 more minutes.   

Remove from heat. Whisk the cornstarch and water together and add to pan.

Return pan to heat and stir until thickened.

Serve over rice. 

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January 4th / 6th / 19th: STIR-FRY


Stir-fry is my go-to when I’m feeling lazy. It’s quick, easy and I can use up a bunch of veggies from the fridge all in one shot. I usually throw a half a cup of rice in the rice cooker before I do anything so at least that is on and requires zero attention from me. For my beef stir-fry I use thinly sliced beef, different colored bell peppers, sliced onions and carrots cut into little sticks. If I think I may be making stir-fry in the week, I usually cut up all the veggies at once and store them in little Tupperwares in the fridge so I can just throw together a stir-fry at the last minute. 

And by ‘last minute’ I mean, I have woken from a nap to discover there is nothing defrosted and it’s 7:45pm. 

For the beef, I buy a huge round of beef from Costco and cut it up. I get four steaks, four baggies of stew meat and 2 baggies of stir-fry beef. To get it so thinly sliced, I cut the beef into thinish slabs and lay them out on parchment paper. Very carefully, I then balance the parchment paper on a tray and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. One it’s frozen, I take it out, slice it up nice and thin, portion it back into separate baggies, label and refreeze. This way it will defrost super quick, cook super quick and be table-ready from the freezer to the plate in 30 minutes.

For the stir-fry on the 4th, I used a Chinese 5-Spice Sauce (below) and for the Beef Stir-Fry on the 19th, I used an Asian Home Gourmet Szechuan Sauce I picked up at the Co-Op. I recognized it from living in Korea and couldn’t remember if we liked it so figured we’d try it again. We didn’t like it and I now remember why we only ever had it that once. 

For the Sausage Stir-Fry two days later on the 6th, I used the same veggies as the Beef Stir-Fry as I had halved the bell peppers and onions for the first stir-fry and wanted to use up the other halves before they went weird in the fridge. And the onion smell each time I opened the fridge served as both an inspiration to cook anything stir-fry and a reminder to buy a new baking soda thingy for the fridge. I also used two smokies we had in the fridge and sliced them up into half-moon shapes. 

The sauce for the one on the 6th, however, is the best part. For this one, I made my homemade stir-fry sauce: Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce. OK, so the name is a little obvious BUT it IS soy-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Just to be clear, I know I can’t have dairy and have been told to limit or eliminate gluten from my diet. The soy is on the fence. The whole saga is documented here but for the sake of argument, I basically eat something that may have soy in it, if it makes me sick, I don’t eat it again, if it doesn’t make me sick, I do eat it again. It’s a very simple process. I’ve avoided tofu and soy sauce anyway just to limit them but I can tolerate soybean oil and the teeny bit of soy that’s in some foods. For the soy-free ‘soy sauce’, I use this recipe. I make a large batch and then freeze it in an ice-cube tray for later use.


3-4 tbs soy sauce or not-soy soy sauce

2 tbs white vinegar

1 cup of beef / chicken / vegetable stock

1/2 tb Splenda

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tb minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder

1 tb Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp onion powder

1-2 tsp Sriracha

2 tsp cornstarch

I sometimes also add 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika or ground chipotle powder just to give it a little more of a smoky flavour. 

Throw all the ingredients EXCEPT the cornstarch into a bowl/jug/something to hold it all in and mix it about a little. I put it all in a mason jar and shake it. Works like a charm. 


1 tbs Chinese 5-spice powder (I use this one

½ – 1 cup of beef stock (depending on how saucy you want your stir-fry)

2 tbs soy sauce or not-soy soy sauce

1 tb cornstarch.

RECIPE: BASIC STIR-FRY – Makes 2 meals for 2 sometimes with leftovers for the next day


1 cup of sliced chicken/beef/tofu/pork

2 carrots, sliced into sticks

½ each of 2 different colored peppers, sliced (or just one colored pepper. Red is nice. Or green. Orange is kinda cool. But not yellow. I’m kidding. Any colour pepper you’ve got is fine. It’s a stir-fry, not a painting.)

1 onion, sliced (try keep all the sliced veggies the same-ish size) 

The instructions for all the stir-fries are pretty much the same.  

Fry a small bit of oil in large frying pan or wok, if you’re feeling fancy and happen to have one. I use vegetable oil or canola oil. 

Then fry up some sliced onion and garlic, add the beef or chicken or whatever meat you are using. Fry until browned, continually stirring. 

Add the carrots and peppers and stir-fry for maybe 5-6 minutes.

For Chinese 5-Spice Stir-Fry: 

Add Chinese 5-Spice powder and stir-fry for 1 minute, stirring consistently.

Add beef stock and soy sauce / not-soy soy sauce. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 more minutes.

Mix cornstarch with 2 tbs of water. Remove pan from heat, add cornstarch mixture, return pan to heat and stir until thickened. 

For Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce:

Skip over the ‘add Chinese 5-spice powder’ step and just add your sauce mixture from the jug/bowl/jar and bring to boil then simmer for 10-15 more minutes. I usually simmer until the rice cooker beeps and the meat is cooked. 

Mix cornstarch with 2 tbs of water. Remove pan from heat, add cornstarch mixture, return pan to heat and stir until thickened.

For the package stir-fry sauce, follow the instructions on the package. Obviously. 

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January 7th: FRICOT – Makes 4 bowls of soup

The Canadian One would constantly talk about a soup his grandmother would make him called Fricot. I wasn’t until recently that we realized it was not written how it was pronounced, ‘Fricko’, it was actually ‘Fricot’, a traditional Acadian stew. As a result, the misspelling made it difficult to work out exactly what goes into it other than his memory of turkey and potatoes. The Canadian One’s cousin eventually gave us an idea of what went into it and through trial and error after each holiday with leftover turkey, the Quest for Fricot began. Of course, NOW we have looked up a recipe and realized it is very similar to the one we came up with and are rather proud of our little version. 

2 cups cooked and shredded turkey or chicken

1 cup carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

2 tbs butter

3 potatoes, diced

4 cups chicken stock

1tsp each of dried sage, thyme, marjoram

Salt and pepper

1 tsp garlic, crushed, optional but I like it

Melt butter in large pan. Fry onions and garlic a little until soft. Toss all other ingredients in. I throw in some Silk Road All-Purpose Blend sometimes. Just a tablespoon. Bring to boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours. I usually just put it on while I’m doing other stuff in the kitchen like watching Scandal on my iPad or Instgramming pictures of my cats. We serve it with buns or bread. 

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January 8th: CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS & FRIES – Makes enough for 8-10 drumsticks

Friday is Fry-day in our home. I like making fries on a Friday. I have no idea why or even how this happened. It just began as a pattern and stuck. The fries are pretty simple; they are frozen oven fries so I just follow the instructions on the package. 

For the sauce, we use an adapted version of Barbecue Chicken Legs by The Pioneer Woman

1 tsp onion powder

1-2 tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup no-sugar ketchup (or regular ketchup) 

1 tsp garlic powder

3 tbs white vinegar (more or less to taste) 

1 tb Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp molasses

2 tbs chipotle adobo sauce or 2 tsp ground chipotle powder

1/2 tsp mustard powder (optional)

1 tb Splenda (optional)

1/4 tsp smoked paprika powder (optional) 

Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, heat gently and stir until throughly mixed. This bubbles and splashes a bit. Not gonna lie. I sometimes make double and freeze half. 

For the drumsticks, we rub oil (usually olive oil) over the chicken and then sprinkle it with some salt and pepper and bake at 425F for 20 minutes, flip it and bake for another 20 minutes, then add the sauce, reduce heat to 350F, cover with foil, bake for 5 minutes, flip and kinda spoon the sauce over it (or use a brush if you have one) and bake for another 5 minutes. 

I dip my fries in the excess sauce. I just LOVE it. 

This also works as a wing sauce. Just FYI. 

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January 9th: LEFTOVER TURKEY CHILLI  – Makes 2-3 meals for 2

We had a LOT of turkey leftover from Christmas dinner. It being just the two of us, and given my penchant for buying large turkeys on sale and stuffing our freezer with them, it leads to an extraordinary amount of leftovers. And let’s be honest, after eating nothing but turkey for 2-3 days over the holidays, you’re done. You need something else. Like a steak.

Whenever there’s a large turkey cooked, I (meaning not me at all, The Canadian One) cuts off enough meat for 2 dinners and puts it aside and then cuts off all the rest of the meat, and I slice it, portion it out and freeze it. I would make stock out of the carcass however my current pot is not large enough and into the trash the bones go. 

This chili came about because during a month-end freezer inventory, I found a small baggie of frozen sweetcorn and a baggie with a cup of cooked kidney beans in it. Coupling that with a tin of chopped tomatoes, an onion and the remainder of a sandwich baggie of frozen tomato paste, we had ourselves a meal.

Vegetable or coconut oil

1 cup cooked turkey

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup cooked kidney beans

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 tbs of tomato paste

½ cup of sweetcorn

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

A sprinkling of red chilli flakes or diced jalapeños (optional)

Heat oil in pan or pot. Add onion and garlic and fry until softened. 

After that, I usually just dump all of the rest of the ingredients into the pot, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. I’m sure there is an actual order I should be adding these all to the pot but in the interest of time and ease, I don’t seek it out.

This, incidentally, would also work as a slow-cooker recipe. Probably fry onion and garlic, add to slow cooker along with all the other ingredients and then put it on low for 6 hours. If anyone tries that, let me know. 

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January 13th: CHICKPEA & SAUSAGE STEW WITH RICE – Makes 2-3 meals for 2

This was more of a what-do-we-have-in-the-fridge type of stew more so than a gourmet-fancy-follow-a-recipe type of thing. I buy a lot of dried chickpeas, soak 3 cups of them overnight, boil them the following day and then freeze them in 1 cup baggies in the freezer to add to whatever I want. 

For this I laid out all the ingredients I could find on the table and came up with the plan to toss everything into a pot and hope for the best. I like all those things separately, there was no reason I could think of as to why it wouldn’t all work together. 

1 cup chickpeas

2 smokie sausages, diced

1 can of whole tomatoes

Some tomato paste, it looked like about a tablespoon. It was a frozen square. I feel like when it melted, it was about a tablespoon. I just threw it into the pot frozen. 

1 onion, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced aka bashed with a frying pan until small 

1 red bell pepper, diced. It was actually 3/4 of a bell pepper because some of it had gone a little soft. 

2 tsp mild chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup of chicken stock

Red chilli flakes and chopped jalapeno peppers

Frozen sweetcorn, a handful

I fried up the garlic and onion in some oil and added them to a large pot. Then I basically threw everything else into the pot and brought it to a boil. Then I simmered it for about an hour with the lid on. 

You can also make this without the sausage. Obviously. 

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January 21st: CHICKEN VINDALOO CURRY AND RICE – Makes 1 meal for 2

This curry is HOT, I’m not gonna lie. The first time I had it, I put a lot of curry powder in it and had to add a little coconut milk to mine to mellow it out a bit. 

1 tb Vindaloo curry powder (I used The Silk Road’s Vindaloo curry blend) Add more or less to taste. I suggest the first time you make it, use less and then build from there. 

2 chicken breasts, diced (or meat/vegetables of choice)

2 tomatoes, diced

2 tbs tomato paste

1-2 tsp red wine vinegar (to taste)

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup water / stock

Blend the tomato paste, curry powder and vinegar into a paste and marinate the chicken in it in the fridge for an hour or so. I sometimes just gloss right over this step if I feel like it. I mean, we’re the ones eating it, if we don’t mind, who cares? If you DO mind, however, please do marinate it for a bit in the fridge. 

Fry up the garlic and onion until soft in a little oil. I use vegetable oil or coconut oil. 

Add chicken mixture and fry, stirring, until the chicken is browned on the outside. 

Add tomatoes and water/stock to pan. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Serve with rice. 

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January 23rd: SAUSAGE AND PEPPER PASTA – Makes 2-3 meals for 2

This is a recipe I got from CrockPot Diabetic Recipes but adapted it for use on the stove and not the slow-cooker. 

I kept the basic ingredients the same except I used Mild Italian Pork Sausages and not the chicken sausages called for in the recipe.

4 mild Italian sausages (or any sausage, really)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced (again, I just whack it a few times with a pot until it’s all small)

1 large can of whole tomatoes

A mixture of sliced peppers (red, green, yellow, orange) making up about 2 cups, if you have them. If not just slice up 2 different coloured peppers. 

1 tbs dried basil

1 tsp red chilli flakes

Salt and Pepper

Remove the sausages from their casings, cut into little balls and fry in a frying pan with a little oil until browned. Tip into a large pot. 

Add onion and garlic to the frying pan and fry until soft. Tip into the large pot. 

Add all the other ingredients to the large pot. Stir it around, bring to boil, cover and simmer for an hour. 

Serve with pasta. 

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 January 29th: BEEF MADRAS AND FRIES – Makes 1 meal for 2

This requires marinating overnight. Unlike the earlier curry, I’ve never skipped over the marinating of the beef. Also, I usually serve this with rice but lately we’ve been having it with fries…and here’s why:

We had a friend visiting from Chicago a few months back and, as you do when friends come to town, we went out and got drunk, returning home at 2am…ish, starving. I threw some fries in the oven and located some leftover Beef Madras from dinner earlier in the fridge.

I heated it up, poured it over the cooked fries poutine-style and we ate it with a side of Sriracha and tomato ketchup. Now, you may be scrunching up your nose at this, but it was the best thing we had ever tasted and we felt like geniuses. It just worked. We have no idea why.

We later tried it again, after not consuming copious amounts of beer and vodka and it still worked. It was glorious and thus a new, unusual dish was born. 

You, of course, can serve this with just plain rice and not the fries, ketchup, Sriracha combo….but if you’re feeling adventurous, I urge you to try it. 

1 cup of stewing beef – I say 1 cup. I have really no idea how much it was. About 1 1/2 handfuls, I would guess. 

1 onion, diced

2-3 tbs madras powder (I used this one)

2 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tbs tomato paste

1 cup water

Mix the madras powder, tomato paste and red wine vinegar together, add the beef, squish about and make sure it’s all nice and mixed and then marinate overnight in the fridge. 

The next day, fry up the onions in a little oil and then remove from pan. 

Add the beef and curry mixture to the pan along with 1/2 cup water. Simmer gently until the water is almost gone. It will take maybe 5-10 minutes. 

Add the onions and the rest of the water to the pan. Bring to a small boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour, adding more water if it looks like it’s drying out. 

Serve with rice…or, as discussed, the fries/ketchup/Sriracha combo. Think about it. 

Report back if you’ve tried it. 

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Cooking food humor recipes

Whole-Wheat Lactose-Free Carrot and Apple Muffins

I’ve made 24 of these in the past 6 days and eaten 13 of them. No, seriously! Yesterday, I ate three. They just make really good on-the-go snacks. I had one for breakfast at 7am, then another for a snack at work at 1pm and then the third at 6pm on my way from work to physiotherapy. They’re filling but not heavy so they don’t make you feel like you’ve just eaten the world’s fill of muffins, like some muffins I’ve tried. You know that argh-I-shouldn’t-have-eaten-that feeling, the oh so familiar perhaps-I-should-take-up-exercise muffin-feeling. These don’t do that.

I happened upon this recipe when searching for a healthy, low-carb carrot cake recipe and quickly became addicted to all the other recipes Lisa has posted on the site. Going back to May 2010, Lisa and her family took a 100-day without processed food pledge and she’s written some wonderful posts on it. Personally, I love the idea of less processed foods in our diet and, whenever possible, I try to avoid it. Lisa’s site is full of brilliant tips and tricks (and budgeting advice) on how to live life with less processed foods. These muffins are super easy to pull together, take less than 30 minutes to bake (from flour to mouth) and have turned out moist and delicious from the very first time I made them. Case in point, remember I ate 13 of them in 6 days…which is way too many, don’t do that.

photo (71)

Whole-Wheat Lactose-Free Carrot and Applesauce Muffins

Adapted from I adapted this recipe to adhere to my new lactose-free lifestyle but the actual recipe can be found here. Makes 12.

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup minus 2tbs of lactose-free margarine (I use Fleichman’s Lactose-Free margarine)

2 tbs vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey (I use slightly less than 1/2 cup. I use maybe 3/4 of 1/2 cup. Don’t overthink the math, basically, I just fill a 1/2 cup measure 3/4 full!)

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I use The Silk Road Spice Merchant’s Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract…and I use the full 1tsp)

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup grated carrot

1. First, you’re going to need to pre-heat your oven to 350F (180C) and line your muffin tin with muffin cups. I always use Paper Chef’s Culinary Parchment Large Baking Cups because they don’t stick to the muffin like some paper cups and they don’t leak batter…like some paper cups…you know who you are)

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt together in a bowl until well combined.

3. Now, here’s the bit I like because I get to bust out my KitchenAid Stand Mixer The Canadian One got me for Christmas (of course, if you don’t have a KitchenAid Mixer, you can use a whisk and some elbow grease). Mix together the margarine, oil, egg, honey, vanilla on medium speed (speed 2 then 4 then back to 2). Then slowly add the flour mixture. SLOWLY add the flour mixture. I say it twice because you would think it would be obvious however I ended up in a cloud of flour the first time I did this so I would like to help other idiots out there avoid the same fate for their counter tops…clothes…floor…curtains…cat…he was fine. Confused. But fine. The batter is going to be quite thick at this point and you will find yourself wondering if your muffins are going to be too dried out. They are not. Move on to step 4.

4. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in applesauce and carrots until they are combined but try not to mix it about too much. Mix it until combined and move on. Divide the batter among your muffin cups and bake for 22 minutes and then check on them. Jab one with a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean, they’re all done. If not, allow to bake for another 2-3 minutes and test again.

Resist all urge to eat them while they are still hot. Or don’t and eat them. Really, I’m not one to tell you want to do. Enjoy.

Don’t like carrot? No problem. Just substitute the 1 cup of carrots for 1 cup of raspberries or blueberries for fruity explosion!


Cooking food recipes

Monkey Quesadillas aka Peanut Butter and Banana Quesadillas

I’ve got a new food addiction. Well, no, wait, that’s no technically true. I’ve always had a deep love for anything containing peanut butter and bananas as any avid readers will recall from my Peanut Butter and Banana Milkshake:

photo 2

Buuuuuuut Monkey Quesadillas are genius! Warm, tasty and filling! I love them. Also, I have no picture because I ate my quesadilla while searching for my phone to take a picture so here’s a picture of a banana instead:

Peanut Butter and Banana Quesadillas

So to make this glorious wrap you will need: For one quesadilla, 1 banana, 1 tortilla wrap (I use whole-wheat flour tortillas), peanut butter (I use smooth, I don’t like crunchy), honey.

Spread peanut butter on tortilla, then either slice or smush banana and cover half the tortilla with banana. Drizzle honey over the banana and fold tortilla. Heat pan on a medium heat. Place quesadilla on pan for a bit until warmed then flip and warm the other side. Slice in half and eat.

Mine is never very warm because I get impatient staring at it and then just end up eating it. Usually eat this for lunch at the weekends…or when I arrive home from a friend’s house drunk. Monkey Quesadillas + Alcohol is a winning combination, I’m not gonna lie.

Cooking food recipes

Lazy-Days Lasagna (Oven Version AND Slow-Cooker Version)

Lazy-Days LasagnaI love lasagna. The entire time we lived in Korea, whenever we would go out to dinner in a western bar I would always order a lasagna. Our oven was smaller than a microwave and attempts to make lasagna were usually foiled by either the size of the oven or the sourcing of ingredients as fancy as lasagna sheets. But alas, occasionally, I’d pull it off and we’d feast on lasagna every few months.

Having moved to Canada, however, lasagna became part of the usual mealtime rotation. Well, that was until recently when our oven broke plunging me into an oven-free world once again. 11 months and two weeks of glorious oven-time after 5 years sans oven and I had become dependant on my kinship with the oven to produce amazing things like Apple and Carrot Wheat Muffins or homemade Whole-Wheat Pizzas.

And then, I discovered that I could also make lasagna in the slow-cooker.


For your reading pleasure, I’ve included both version here. For the sauce and meat, I use the same basic recipe as my Spaghetti Bolognese recipe and then depending on how busy I am, I either make homemade cheese sauce or store-bought cheese sauce.

Lazy-Days Lasagna


1 lb ground meat (usually I use ground beef but sometimes a mixture of ground beef and hot Italian ground sausage)

4 sheets of either no-boil lasagna or regular sheets of lasagna boiled and softened

3 cups of grated cheese

2 cups of cheese sauce (either homemade or store-bought)

1/2 – 1 cup of beef stock

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 large can of plum tomatoes

1 onion, diced

2 tbs tomato paste (for advice on how to save the rest of the tomato paste in that giant can you just bought, see here)

1 tsp oregano and a pinch of basil OR 1tsp of Italian Seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and add onions and garlic. Fry for several minutes until translucent.

2. Add ground beef and fry until browned (maybe 5-6 minutes) stirring.

3. Drain fat from pan. Now, this is a little tricky if your pan doesn’t have a lid but with some practice and a nifty spatula, it’s almost accomplishable.

4. Return pan to heat. Add oregano, basil, (or Italian Seasoning / bay leaf if using), tomatoes, puree and stock.

5. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often to crush up the tomatoes.

Oven Version

1. Heat oven to 375F / 190C.

2. In a rectangular or square dish layer, layer lasagna: meat mixture, noodles, cheese sauce, meat mixture, noodles and cheese sauce in dish. Top with grated cheese and cover with foil, being careful the foil doesn’t touch the cheese.

3. Bake lasagna for 45 minutes, removing foil for the last ten minutes.

photo (59)Slow-Cooker Version

1. Layer lasagna in slow-cooker: meat mixture, noodles, cheese sauce, meat mixture, noodles, cheese sauce, reserving grated cheese separately. Break up the lasagna sheets so they fit all around the lasagna. It’s OK if there are gaps, the lasagna sheet, if it’s a no boil version, will expand anyway.

2. Cook in slow-cooker for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. I advise checking on it after 3 hours to see if it’s done. Mine only took 3 hours. Sprinkle with grated cheese and put lid back on for 10 minutes until cheese is fully melted.

Freezer Friendly: If you’re freezer cooking, wait until lasagna has completely cooled, then cut into single servings, place in Ziploc bags, label and freeze.

food recipes

Quickie Morning Smoothies


I drink a smoothie everyday at work. I blend it all up in the morning, pour it into a Mason Jar and throw it into my handbag. I keep straws at work so when I get there I just pop the lid and enjoy the still icy cold breakfast.

While other folks at work like to make fun of me for my ‘healthy nature’ and one of my co-workers noted that I eat a lot of fruit, there’s nothing I love more in the mornings than fruit. Once, when I was particularly stressed, one of them told me I should ‘go home and eat fruit’, which I guess is polite. I’m allergic to chocolate (I KNOW!!!…but we’ll come back to that another time) and thus when I am sad I actually eat family-sized bags of Doritos not fruit.

Moving on.

People always ask ‘How do you have time to make a smoothie each morning?’ and the answer is simple, it takes no time at all.

On Sundays, I wash, cut and prep all the fruit and prepare small sandwich baggies for freezing. In the mornings, all I do is pull out a baggie, add it to the blender with some juice and yogurt and pour it into the Mason Jar. Done. I sometimes do it while brushing my teeth.

Here are six of my favourite morning smoothie recipes for grab and go to get you started on a new morning routine:

Berry Banana Smoothiebanana

1/2 cup of Berries, (i.e. Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries)

1 Banana

1 cup of Orange Juice

1 tbs of Plain Yogurt

Blend everything together

Monkey Milk Smoothie

This one I can’t take to work as peanuts are banned from the office, along with raw onions and, rather specifically, kiwis, so this is an ‘at home’ smoothie.

Peanut butter

1 Banana

2 tbs of Peanut Butter

1 tsp of Honey

1 cup of Milk

Blend. Blend. Blend.

Green Smoothie

Handful of Spinach or Frozen Spinach

1 Banana

1 Apple, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tbs of Plain Yogurt

1 cup of Orange Juice OR Apple Juice


 blueberryBlueberry Apple Smoothie

1 1/2 cups of Apple Juice

1 Apple, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 cup of Blueberries

1 Banana

1/2 tsp Lemon Juice


Blueberry Smoothie Take Two

1 Banana

1 cup of Milk

1/2 cup of Blueberries

1 tsp of Honey

1 tbs of Plain Yogurt


Pineapple Smoothiepineapple

1/2 cup of Pineapple

1 Banana

1 cup of Orange Juice or Pineapple Juice


Feel free to add more fruit, change up the juice, don’t be afraid to experiment. For freezing, add all fruit minus yogurt and juice, to a baggie and pop in the freezer. In the mornings, just toss the frozen fruit into the blender and add the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have frozen fruit on hand, add some ice cubes to the blender if you want to keep things cold. What’s your favourite smoothie?

Cooking food

Egg-Cellent Breakfast Muffins (Or Crustless Quiche Muffins)

Egg-Cellent Breakfast Muffins

So I’d been searching for a quick and easy breakfast recipe for The Canadian One to just grab and go in the mornings. As a diabetic, his sugars are occasionally high in the morning but that doesn’t mean that he’s not hungry. Normal muffins were out, too many carbs. Toast, eggs, anything like that, took too long to cook. He gets up at 5am for work, he needed something quick, easy, healthy and something he could literally just grab and go. And thus, I stumbled upon a recipe for egg muffins and they are awwweeeesome!

Adapted from Taste of Home’s Scrambled Egg Muffins

Egg-Cellent Breakfast Muffins (makes 6-7) 

6 eggs

1/2 cup of onion, finely chopped

1 heaped cup of grated cheese – I used marble cheese the first time and a mixture of marble and mozzarella the second time.

Pinch of salt and pepper

Add 1 mixed cup of filling of choice:

Chopped bell pepper

Diced cooked Italian sausage


Diced cooked potatoes

Grated zucchini

Finely chopped chili or japaleno pepper





Chopped tomatoes

Shredded chicken / beef / pork

Optional (pick one or two to taste): 

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp Inca Fire Salt

1/4 tsp curry powder

1/4 Italian Seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add seasonings. Whisk about a bit.
  3. Add the cup of filling. Stir about until well mixed.
  4. Add cheese. Mix mix mix.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups filling each about 2/3’s full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check on them after about 23 minutes though. You don’t want these babies drying out.
  7. Serve hot or cold. To reheat, put in microwave for 30 seconds. I take them to work for lunch. They survive in the fridge about three days.

For more recipes, check out our recipes page.

Cooking food recipes

Freezer Cooking: Part Two

photo 4

And so we come to my second (of probably many…unless I get lazy…MORE lazy I mean) batch of freezer cooking glory. Now, we covered a few of the basics in Part One. If you missed it and can’t be bothered to click the link, the words ‘Ziploc baggies’, ‘Sharpies’ and ‘freeze-flat’ all feature. This time ’round, I’ve got a few more recipes for you that I tested out over the course of two days.

The most important thing about freezer cooking is the prep. How many carrots do you need? How many onions? Do they need to be diced or sliced? How many chicken breasts? Do you have enough bowls to hold all the ingredients needed? You need to plan in advance.

photo 1

Believe me, there’s nothing more awesome than leaving the house at 7:30am and returning at 7:15pm to find dinner already made and almost on the table. To help facilitate this, I leave The Canadian One detailed instructions of the week ahead’s menu:

photo (51)

Now, as you can see from the first few dishes I busted out below, I had found myself with a half a can of chickpeas in need of using up and an entire bag of lentils sitting on the shelf. I’ve also found that stews are my friend when it comes to freezer cooking. Over the course of two days, I prepped and / or cooked and froze / ate 38 meals.

For these, I cooked them and split them up into 2-people sized portions into medium-sized baggies:

  1. Mexican Lentil Stew (3 days)
  2. Chickpea and Spinach Stew (2 days)
  3. Indian-Spiced Lentils (2 days – This is a slow-cooker recipe I made on the stove instead) I omitted the mustard seed and used my trusty Silk Road curry powder instead of paste.
  4. Ground Beef Tacos (2 days)
  5. Indian Butter Chicken (1 day)
  6. Italian Sausage with Roasted Vegetables (1 day)
  7. Rich Beef Stew (2 days – this was waaaay too orangy and I won’t be making it again)
  8. Whole-Wheat Pizza with Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onion (recipe coming soon – 2 days)

photo 3

For the next few, I prepped all the ingredients in large baggies and then tipped them into the slow-cooker the morning we planned to eat them, then ate one portion of it and froze the rest for another day.

  1. Slow-Cooker Sausage with Peppers and Basil – from ‘Crockpot: Diabetic Recipes‘ (4 days – I made this twice)
  2. Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili Macaroni – from ‘Crockpot: Diabetic Recipes‘ (2 days)
  3. Slow-Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew – from ‘Crockpot: Diabetic Recipes‘ (2 days)
  4. Slow-Cooker Vegetable Pasta Sauce – from ‘Crockpot: Diabetic Recipes‘ (3 days)
  5. Slow-Cooker Spicy Meatball and Pasta Stew – from ‘Complete Canadian Diabetes Cookbook‘ (3 days)
  6. Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder Roast with White Beans (2 days plus leftovers to pick at)
  7. Slow-Cooker Pantry Chicken Stew (I made it minus the mushrooms as mushrooms freak me out – 2 days)
  8. Slow-Cooker Pork Stew with Dumplings (I made it minus the dumpling, they don’t freak me out, I just didn’t want them – 2 days)
  9. Slow-Cooker Chunky Chicken Chili (3 days)

For lunch, I also made:

  1. Vegetable Pasta (recipe coming soon – 4 days)
  2. Carrot Soup (5 days)
  3. Vegetable Soup (5 days)
  4. Oven Fajitas (3 days)

photo 2

Also thrown in for fun was some smoothie prep. Small baggies full of one smoothie-worth of fruit, labelled and put at the front of the freezer. In the morning, just grab a baggie, tip it into the blender along with a cup of orange juice or any other juice you have knockin’ around the house and a tablespoon of plain yoghurt, whirr for a few seconds and enjoy.

This week’s smoothies:

  1. Strawberry, Banana, Yoghurt and Orange Juice
  2. Peanut Butter, Banana and Milk (you can add honey to this one too if you want)
  3. Melon, Pineapple, Yoghurt and Orange Juice

For more recipes, check out: 

Cooking food recipes

Red Lentil Curry Soup

photo (50)

Words cannot describe how much I love this soup! I love soup. I love all soup. Except mushroom. I don’t like mushrooms. I think they taste like slugs. Well, what I imagine slugs to taste like. I’ve never eaten slugs. Maybe they taste much nicer than mushrooms. I’ll update you if I ever find out.

At work, I eat soup almost daily. I have a 15 minute break at 11:30am so I always heat up 2 cups of soup and bask in the warming goodness. There’s a problem with the air conditioning at work whereby in the mornings it hot and then it cools down and then it’s freezing…and then you go outside and it’s super-hot. It’s a conundrum. Plus, talking on the phones all day can leave your throat a little dry so I find a little spot of soup for my midday break is just what I need.

Red Lentil Curry Soup

2 cups of red lentils, washed and picked over

2 cups of chopped tomatoes and juice. (I usually just dump an entire can in, I’m lazy)

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 cups of chicken broth

2 carrots, chopped (technically I just threw these in because I had them in the fridge and needed to use them up but they worked)

1 onion, diced

2 tbs of tomato puree

1 tbs of butter

2 1/2 to 3 tbs of curry powder (or less if you don’t like hot curries). I used Yellow Curry Powder – Medium by The Silk Road Spice Merchant.

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

A pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1 can of light coconut milk

Ground cilantro for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a pot. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent, maybe three minutes.

2. Add all other ingredients except coconut milk to pot. Bring to boil, turn to low and simmer with lid on for 40 minutes.

3. Stir in coconut milk keeping heat at low. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring every so often.

4. Serve garnished with cilantro and enjoy the yumminess.

Find more great recipes on Ketchup Kitchen

Cooking food recipes

Cheesy Vegetable Leftovers Pasta

photo (51)Quite often I have a lot of vegetables lying around in the fridge. Half a carrot here, a green pepper there, a zucchini or two hiding in the back. Instead of throwing them out I put them to good use with my Leftovers Pasta recipe, a mishmash of random things found knocking around in the vegetable drawer of the fridge.

Cheesy Vegetable Leftovers Pasta

Olive oil for frying

1 onion, sliced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 chicken breasts, diced (optional)

2 cups of diced mixed vegetables (carrots, peppers, zucchinis, peas, etc)

2 tsp of chili powder (or more to taste)

1 tsp of cumin

1 can of chopped tomatoes

2 tbs of tomato paste

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups of dried pasta, small shapes work best

1 cup of grated cheese

1. Fry onion and garlic for a few minutes over a medium heat. If using carrots, add now. Add chicken and fry until browned. Add any other vegetables you’re using and continue to fry for a few more minutes.

pasta step 2

2. Add chili and cumin and stir for one minute.

3. Add tomatoes, paste, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, make pasta according to package. I’d forgotten to add the green pepper earlier so I just threw it in now!

pasta step 3

4. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 10 minutes at 350F.

pasta step 4

Optional: Sprinkle with chili flakes for extra spice.

Cooking food recipes

Freezer Cooking

Freezer Cooking with The Ketchup War

I’ve always been a fan of freezer cooking only I didn’t know it. I never knew it had a name. I would just call it being-well-prepared. Back in the days, ohhhhhh maybe 7 years ago, when I would work 1pm-10pm and not have time to cook nice meals at night time, I would spend my Sundays cooking meals to freeze and eat during the week. The only difference between my freezer cooking and a lot of the other freezer cooking out there, I freeze all cooked food as oppose to freezing raw, ready-to-be-cooked food, that way, The Canadian One just needs to reheat it before I get home and dinner is ready to go!

In Korea I didn’t do that. Why? Well, for one, I worked 12pm-6pm so had ample time both before work and after to cook. For another, Korea was the land of last minute invites out to dinner and one could never be sure if you were eating in or out on any given night. Moving to Canada changed that. Now I work 10am-6pm, leaving the house at 8:40am and returning home at 7:30pm. In order to ensure we don’t eat fast food each night or spend an astronomical amount of money on pizzas or bar food, I’ve returned to my 22 year old ways of freezer cooking.

Freezer cooking, as an aside, is a misleading name by the way. It implies you are cooking the freezer not cooking for the freezer but I’ll let that go.

Moving on.

Last weekend, we were supposed to go over to a friend’s house to hang but it got cancelled at the last moment, cue my opportunity to get my cookin‘ on…and The Canadian One’s opportunity to play his new PS3 game Grand Theft Auto 56…or whatever it’s called. I wanna say 4…but it could be 5…I could check but the game is on the other side of the room and I’m lazy.

From 9:20pm until 11:30pm, I cooked eight meals which amounts to nine days of dinner. NINE! In two hours. It woulda been less but I had The Mentalist Season 3 playing on the computer at the same time and OMG, has anyone else seen the season 3 finale?! If you have, you’ll understand why I became super-distracted in the middle of cooking!

Now, the three most important things you should remember when freezer cooking are:

  1. Plan ahead. I cannot stress this enough. Have a plan. Prepare in advance. How many onions do you need? How many carrots? Chicken thighs? Wash, chop, slice and dice all vegetables in advance. Then move onto the meat. Then measure out the spices and herbs needed for each dish.
  2. Wait until the food has cooled a bit before putting it in a baggie. Nobody likes a melted baggie. Nobody.
  3. Flatten baggies and freeze flat. It makes more room in the freezer if the food is flat and stacked.
  4. Label each baggie with the name of the dish, any other important cooking information, I include a carb count if it’s particularly high so The Canadian One doesn’t eat too much rice with the meal and we can prepare extra vegetables instead and include the date the dish was made.

The order in which you cook the meals is also important. I started with the one that uses up one ring and one pot for one hour. Then I cooked several that only take 30 mins until I had a second pot free again. I cooked one that only requires a pan while waiting on a pot to become free and I utilized the Slow Cooker as it was completely separate from the pot dance. I cooked the meals were:

  1. Chicken and Garlic Stew – 1 hour +
  2. Spaghetti Bolognese (ingredients doubled for two days of dinner) – 30 – 40 mins
  3. Beef Vindaloo – 40 – 50 mins
  4. Indian Chicken Curry – 20 – 30 mins
  5. Taco Meat – 20 mins
  6. Pork Meatballs and Pasta Sauce (frozen separately) – Baked in Oven
  7. Pork Burgers – Prepared but not cooked. Wrapped separately in saran wrap – I had to call The Canadian One to ask what this was in American, in Ireland we call it clingfilm…ours makes more sense… – and frozen in a baggie.
  8. Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Casserole – Used slow cooker or Slowy C as I like to call him.

I also made some Chicken Wing Marinade and Cold Brewed Iced Coffee neither of which required the oven, pots or Slowy C.

Other dinners I’ve frozen in the past include:

  1. Lovely Lentil Curry – which I already had frozen in the freezer from last time.
  2. Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne 
  3. Irish Stew

For all three above, I doubled the ingredients and froze to make six days of dinner instead of three.

Don’t forget to check out Freezer Cooking: Part Two!

silk road logo

Recipes for all the rest coming soon. In the meantime, if you live in Canada and are looking for a place to buy spices, check out The Silk Road Merchant. I get all my spices from them and they are super helpful and knowledgeable about their spices. Go check them out and get your spice on.

Cooking food recipes

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

photo (64)

There’s nothing in this world as glorious as waking up on a hot summer’s morning and treating yourself to an ice-cold cup of coffee with milk. I love it. I’ve tried countless ways to make iced coffee since the espresso maker when to live in Korea. Actually, it didn’t ‘go live there’, it’s more like ‘we left it there’ but whatever, the point is, it no longer lives with us and thus my mornings of iced coffees and steamed lattes are over and my mornings of drip coffee from the Walmart-bought coffee maker commences. Now, there are several things I’ve learned through this hit or miss process:

Making a batch of coffee and allowing it to cool overnight then using it causes it to be bitter.

Making a batch of coffee and pouring it over ice immediately causes it to be watery…anyone who understands science (or that ice melts) will have problems in seeing the flaw in this plan.

For some reason, pouring it hot into my take-away cup and putting it in the fridge at work makes it grainy. I still haven’t figured this one out.

But alas, I discovered Cold Brewed Iced Coffee and after reading many many MANY recipes and alternating the ratio of coffee to water several times, I’ve come up with the perfect mix.

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

For Part One, you will need:

2 cups of ground coffee

6 cups of water

1. First, get two cups of ground coffee (your favorite will do) and pour into a container.

IC step 1

IC step 2

IC Step 3

2. Then add six cups of water. I used filtered water.

IC Step 4

IC step 5

3. Stir. Stir. Stir until it looks all sludgy like something a child would make using mud and a nearby puddle.

IC step 6

4. Put the lid on it and store it in a place away from sunlight for 24 hours.

IC step 7




Wait 24 hours.

For Part Two, you will need:

Another container.

A coffee filter. I just used the one from the coffee machine. Other people like to use paper filters or cheese cloth.

1-2 cups of water



1. Open coffee container and stir sludge.

2. Carefully pour coffee through filter into the second container.


iced 2

3. This may take a while. ‘A while’ meaning ten minutes or so, not hours.


4. Now, at this point, you can just place all the filtered coffee in the fridge and when you want to drink it you can either do half coffee, half water or one third coffee, one third water and one third milk. What I usually do is add 2 cups of water to the filtered coffee and cut out the fiddling about with water in the mornings bit. That way, the coffee is ready to be poured and mixed with milk straight away. The first time you make this, you may want to play about with the amounts of water you add to find the right mix for you but generally I stick to the 2-6-2 method. (2 cups of coffee, 6 cups of water, waaaaait, then add 2 more cups of water)


iced 7

5. Add ice and milk, if adding, and enjoy.


iced 8

iced 9


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Spaghetti Bolognese – GF/DF/FF

Spaghetti Bolognese - Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Freezer Friendly and Full of Yumminess! (Honestly, I make this almost weekly, it's crazy!)Spaghetti Bolognese was one of the first things I learned how to cook. Albeit it was the jar-type where you just brown the meat, add the sauce and wait. I’d grown up watching my mother make a version of this in the microwave in the days where, as a single mother, she’d make dinner in the mornings for us before she went to school and we’d reheat it ourselves in the microwave when we got home from school.

Nowadays, Spaghetti Bolognese is my favourite freezer-cooking recipe. I can buy the ground beef cheap at Safeway or Costco then I double the ingredients, cook it all up, separate it into three different baggies and freeze it for quick weekday dinners.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Olive oil for frying

500g ground beef

1/2 cup of beef stock (gluten free – if making it gluten free)

1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 cans of whole tomatoes

1 onion, diced

2 tbs tomato paste (for advice on how to save the rest of the tomato paste in that giant can you just bought, see here)

1 tsp oregano

1tsp of Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp ground fennel

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and add onions and garlic. Fry for several minutes until translucent.

2. Add ground beef and fry until browned (maybe 5-6 minutes) stirring.

3. Drain fat from pan. Now, this is a little tricky if your pan doesn’t have a lid but with some practice and a nifty spatula, it’s almost accomplishable.

4. Return pan to heat. Add oregano, Italian Seasoning, tomatoes, puree and stock.

5. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for up to 2 hours, stirring often to crush up the tomatoes. For the last 30 minutes, simmer without the lid to reduce.

Serve with spaghetti or tagliatelle (GF if needed), grated Parmesan (if not DF) or chilli flakes (The Canadian One’s condiment of choice).

Freezer Friendly: This freezes so well – Allow the meat to cool, the divide into individual portions and freeze. The just defrost, reheat and add noodles for a quick weekday meal!

TIP: To sneak veggies into this dish for little kids, try grating up a carrot and throwing it in in Step 4. The kiddies will never know!

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Carrot Soup

photo (63)Recently, I found myself with a lot of surplus carrots lying around the house and at the same time became addicted to eating soup during one of my breaks at work. You can tell where this is going, right?

Ok, the title was a bit of a give-away, wasn’t it?

Alas, yes, I made carrot soup. Lots and lots of carrot soup. This easily feeds 4 people and freezes super-well.

Carrot Soup (print friendly version at the bottom)

Carrot Soup Ingredients

8-10 carrots, chopped. Mine were thin carrots, which I didn’t know existed until I moved to Canada. They kinda look starved. Like starved carrots. I would, at a guess, say 6 plump, carrots would equal 10 starved carrots.

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 onion

1 potato, peeled and cubed. I used to put more potatoes in my carrot soup but it kinda goes all baby-foodie so I cut back on the potatoes. I know, I’m Irish, how could I say that. Hopefully my mother won’t read this post.

2 cups of chicken stock / vegetable stock / water

1 tb of parsley (or any other herb you have lying around the house) Last week I threw some oregano in. This week parsley. One time I threw in a whole bunch of Italian seasoning.

1 tb of butter

A pinch of salt and pepper

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a pot. Add the onions and garlic and fry for several minutes until soft.

2. Toss all the rest of the ingredients into a pot, covering the contents with the stock / water. If you don’t have enough stock to cover the vegetables, feel free to add a tad bit more water.

3. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for 25-30 minutes until all the vegetables have softened.

4. In small batches, blend all the ingredients on low in a blender. In SMALL batches. SMALL. Seriously, you do NOT want hot soup all over the place and burnt fingers.

5. Add all the small batches of blended soup to the pot and stir.

6. Serve sprinkled with a little parsley and hot, crusty bread.

*Feel free to substitute olive oil for butter in Step 1.

**If you find the soup too thick, add a little more water in Step 4.


Curried Carrot Soup

Add 1-2 tsp (or more to taste) to soup in Step 5.

Spicy Carrot Soup

Add 1 tsp of cayenne pepper to the soup in Step 5.

Super Veggie Carrot Soup

I call this Supper Veggie, what I could have called it was, things-in-the-fridge-I-needed-to-use-up but that title seems a little long.

Add some broccoli in Step 2 and a handful of peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Carrot Soup by The Ketchup War – Print Friendly Version, for sticking on the fridge!

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Cookin’ in Korea: Tips for Tomato Paste


Here’s the thing I hate about tomato paste: it comes in such a giant can. Why? Why would it come in such a giant can when most recipes only call for 1-2 tablespoons of paste? Why not sell it in smaller cans? Actually, maybe they do sell it in smaller cans in the rest of the world and they don’t in Korea. My problem was, I would buy a can of tomato paste, use two tablespoons of it, transfer it to a plastic container and store it in the fridge…then forget about it and it goes bad.

Be it Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne, Lovely Lentil Curry, Spaghetti Bolognese, all sorts of curries, soups and sauces, I use tomato paste a lot but not enough to own a big can of it.

To save the remains, I’ve tried freezing it in the plastic container. Useless for many reasons.

I’ve tried freezing it in an ice-cube tray as suggested by the internet. Nope. Also useless and messy.

I then tried separating it into little baggies and freezing those but they took up too much space and got squished by the other items in the freezer.

Then I happened upon Martha Stewart’s advice while looking for a muffin recipe and IT. IS. A. LIFESAVER.

First, open the can of tomato paste at both ends.  Discard one of the metal ends but leave the other on the can. Then wrap the can in plastic wrap or wrap tightly in a plastic food baggie. Freeze overnight horizontally. The following morning (or really, whenever you next want to use it) take the can out of the freezer and leave to sit for a few minutes. Then carefully push the frozen paste out of the can using the metal end. You may have to loosen the sides a little with a knife before you attempt to push it out. Discard the can (please recycle), wrap the frozen paste in plastic wrap and place back into the freezer.


Now whenever you need to use tomato paste just slice off as much as you need.

Cooking food recipes

Cookin’ in Korea: Lovely Lentil Curry

photo (56)

For some reason recently, I had a LOT of lentils lying around the house and I needed to use them up. Cobbling together ingredients I had in the house, I created this Lovely Lentil Curry. Simple, easy and tasty. Just what you want in a meal. Can be made ahead and reheated or frozen once cooled to eat at a later date. I made a big batch and ate some on the day it was made and frooze the rest to eat during the week.

Lovely Lentil Curry

Stage One

2 cups lentils

1 vegetable stock cube

Stage Two

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tbls crushed garlic

1-1 1/2 onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup water

1 tbls tomato purée

1 tsp ginger, crushed

1 tbls oil

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsl chili powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp coriander leaf

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tble lemon juice

1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Stage One


1. Pick over the lentils and wash until the water runs clear and not bubbly.


2. Put the lentils in a large pot and cover with water. Then add an extra cup of water too. Cover and simmer until cooked, about 25-30 minutes. If you think the mixture is becoming too dry, add another 1/2 cup of water.


Stage Two

1. Heat oil in large pan and fry onion, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes until translucent.

2. Add the bell peppers and all the spices (apart from the lemon juice and cayenne pepper) and fry for 1 minute.

3. Add chopped tomatoes, tomatoes purée, cooked lentils and water. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

4. Add lemon juice and cayenne pepper (according to taste) and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

5. Serve hot with rice and sprinkled with some coriander leaf, if desired.

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Cookin’ in Korea: Cherry Muffins with Coconut Topping

photo (54)

‘When your Kindergarten school give you cherries, you should make cherry muffins.’ – said Noone. Ever.

Recently The Canadian One had a parent-teacher’s meeting at his school at which he was given roughly $50 worth of fruit as a gift. Now, to YOU that may seem like a lot of fruit but here in Korea, it means 6 clementines, a small box of cherries, some green grapes and a small bottle of orange juice. Fruit is expensive here. Majorly expensive and whenever free fruit is going, we’re all over it like fruit flies.

Last week, The Canadian One sends me a text which read ‘You should see the fruit I scored‘ and immediately I began to get excited about a) what fruit it could be and b) what I could bake with that fruit.

Apple pie? Blueberry muffins? Oh-So-Simple banana bread?

In the end, I decided to try my hand at cherry muffins and once they were cooked, I promptly ate three of them and lay around feeling ill from the muffin overload. My advice: DO make these muffins. DON’T eat three at one time…no matter how badly you want to. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cherry Muffins with Coconut Topping

1/2 saltimg_3022

1 tbls baking powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar / Splenda

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Pinch of cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup chopped cherries

2 tbsl desiccated coconut

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F / 190C.

2. Mix together salt, flour, sugar/Splenda, vanilla essence and cinnamon in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and melted butter.


4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

5. Fold in chopped cherries.


6. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (if you want, sprinkle with coconut – I did half with coconut and half without) and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes (check after 20 minutes).


***I became concerned when the muffins remained only slightly browned and mostly white when they came out of the oven. My mother happened to call while I was checking on them. After a minor conversation about how the muffins were white and how milk is white and it all makes sense….I accepted the muffins were safe to eat…and then I promptly waited 20 minutes for them to cool and then ate one…and then another…and then a third.***

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Cookin’ in Korea: The Om Nom Nomelette

SpaghettiBolognese (10)

‘People shouldn’t overlook the humble omelette.’ – The Canadian One

Weekends are the only time The Canadian One and I get to have breakfast together and it’s usually of an egg variety. Back when The Canadian One and I lived separately he became the master of scrambled eggs but nowadays, we’ve upped the fanciness of our breakfasts and now enjoy omelettes as part of our morning menu.

Usually The Canadian One will make the lattes while I make the omelettes.

The Om Nom Nomelette

3 eggs

Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup grated cheese

1tsp butter

A slash of water

Optional extras:

Pinch of parsley (or another favorite herb), chili, cooked diced ham, shredded cooked chicken, chopped bell pepper, chopped tomatoes, green onions, cooked cubed potatoes

1. Whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, onion, cheese, water and any optional extras you want to add.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Lift the edges of the omelette to allow the uncooked egg to flow under the cooked portion.

4. Flip the omelette over to lightly brown the other side. I’m not gonna lie, this bit takes some skill.

5. Fry until golden brown and turn out onto a plate.

6. Serve with buttered toast, a latte and orange juice for the perfect Sunday morning breakfast.

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Cookin’ in Korea: Irish Stew

photo (58)

Ah, Irish stew, there’s nothing more warming on a cold winter’s night (or summer’s night if you live in Ireland, where on days when the sun shines people stare up wondering what the big, yellow ball in the sky is).

I make this all the time here in Korea. It’s tasty, homely and the ultimate comfort food. I usually make a big batch and freeze some of it to have on days when I don’t feel like cooking.

Irish Stew

2lbs beef stew meatphoto4

1tbs butter

2tbs all-purpose flour

1 pinch of salt and pepper

1-2 large onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 cups carrots, chopped

2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped

500ml beef stock


1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp sage

1 tbs parsley

The herbs are guesses. I grew up watching my mother just fling things into a pot and hope for the best. I also add some marjoram to mine if I have it handy.

photo3 (1)

1. In a plastic sandwich bag, mix beef, flour, salt and pepper. Close the bag at the top and shake, shake, shake until the beef is coated in the flour mixture.

photo1 (1)

2. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the beef and flour mixture, onion, carrots, herbs, potatoes and beef stock to the pot. Add enough water to cover an inch above the mixture. Bring to the boil, stirring and scraping any bits that stick to the bottom of the pot.

***Some recipes say to fry the meat and flour mixture first until browned and then add the other ingredients and others say add everything at the same time. I’ve tried it both ways and find the meat comes out better (and more melt-in-your-mouth-awesome) when it’s not pre-browned.***


3. Cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot in a bowl with fresh crusty bread to mop up all the stewy goodness.

(If you find the mixture to be too thick, you can add more water to it. If you find it’s too watery, simmer with the lid off for 10-15 minutes until it’s the desired consistency. If you freeze/refrigerate it and find it’s too thick when you go to reheat it, feel free to add a bit more water to it and stir it thoroughly.)

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Cookin’ in Korea: Oh-So-Simple Banana Bread

photo (55)

So, The Canadian One and I had this conversation recently:

Me: ‘My blog keeps telling me I spell Canadian wrong. I keep leaving out one of the A’s…I mean, seriously, what word has THREE A’s?!!’

Him: (without missing a beat) ‘Banana….Tarantuala…Anaconda….CANADA!’


Moving on.

Now, baking is not really my forte. I don’t really bake. I cook. A lot. But I very rarely bake. I can bake maybe three things quite well, four if you count the Banana and Blueberry Muffins I tried out for the first time on Monday, and one of the best, easiest and fantastically simple things I can bake is: Banana Bread.

This is adapted recipe from, I believe, All Recipes, but I’ll double-check that and get back to you. It’s adapted for The Canadian One’s dietary needs but I’ve included details from the original version here too.

Oh-So-Simple (Low-Carb) Banana Bread

2-3 bananas (I just use two due to bananas containing an average of 24grams of carbs per medium sized (7 inch) banana)

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup melted butter

1tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup of Splenda granulated (or 1 cup of white sugar)

1. Pre-heat oven to 175C.

2. With a wooden spoon, mix butter and mashed banana.

Banana and melted butter

3. Mix in sugar/Splenda, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle over baking soda and salt. Mix together.

4. Add flour last and mix. Pour into bread pan. (*see note at bottom)

5. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Cool, slice and serve.

*Now, if you live in Korea and are having a hard time finding a bread pan to fit into your teeny tiny ovens, E-Mart and other large outlets, make these awesome, disposable small baking pans:

For maybe 3,000won, you get 5 pans, they fit perfectly into the mini-ovens and produce awesome banana bread, which is all I’ve made with them but I’m sure they’re equally good at other types of bread too.

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Pork Meatballs / Burgers

photo (61)

Ground beef can be quite expensive here in Korea so to save money, I started buying ground pork instead. Of course, with a sudden influx of 1kg of ground pork in the apartment, I set out to find a variation of recipes to use it with.

To the Googlemobile!

And so I found this. Well, kinda. This is an adapted version of one of the most fantastic recipes I managed to find. It’s a combination of a few recipes I came across and I would say I make it almost twice a month. I usually make a big batch comprising of burgers for one day and meatballs for the next.

Personally, I find the pork burgers less heavy in my stomach than I do beef burgers but then again, I dooooo love some good old-fashioned beef cheese burgers every so often.

Pork Meatballs / Burgers

1 egg, beaten – optional, I usually leave it out

1-1 1/2 slices of bread, in breadcrumbs. (I usually blitz it in the blender for a few seconds – can be gluten free)

1 garlic clove, crushed (or finely chopped if you don’t do crushing)

1/2 tsp each of parsley, thyme, salt and ginger

Pinch of ground black pepper

1 small onion, finely chopped

350g ground pork

1. Preheat oven to 190C / 375F (if making meatballs).

2. Mix 1 slice of bread in breadcrumbs, pork, parsley, ginger, thyme, salt, onion and garlic together in a large bowl.

3. Add egg a little at a time until you get a consistency whereby it all binds together nicely and isn’t too wet. If you find you’ve added too much egg, add some of the remaining breadcrumbs.

For Burgers: Make large ball and flatten into a patty. I usually get 2-3 large patties per batch (maybe 5 if I didn’t also make meatballs with the same batch). Heat frying pan over a medium heat with some olive oil. Fry patties for 10-12 minutes, flipping mid-way to make sure both sides of the burger cooks. Be careful not to have the heat too high or else you’ll burn the outside of the burger while the inside remains raw.

To Serve: Construct your burger with toasted sesame seed buns, slices of cheese, ketchup, fried onion, mayo, lettuce, tomato…the possibilities are endless.

For Meatballs: Roll mixture into small balls and arrange on a greased mini muffin tray. Bake for 30 mins. (I’m sure you can also fry them…or put them on a baking tray and into the oven, I’ve just never done that)

To Serve: Once cooked, you can either wait until they cool and pop them in the fridge or pop them straight into your pasta sauce. I usually make them a day in advance, pop them into my pasta sauce and let them reheat in the sauce.

For the sauce: You can use whatever sauce you want to use but I use a four-ingredient tomato pasta sauce I found on smittenkitchen and adapted from Marcella Hazan’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’. I often use this sauce sans meatballs too as it’s so simple and easy and takes really no effort at all but the results, ohhhhh the results are A-MAZ-ING!

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Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne

 Chili Con Carne - DF/GF/FF: Adjust the spice to your liking, easy weekday meal to have handy to pull out of the freezer and reheat.

The best thing about not living at home is that it forces you to learn how to cook food from home.

When I first moved to England, a month after my 18th birthday, I spent the year living on instant noodles, pasta with jar sauce, microwavable everything, oven pizzas and veggie burgers. I was a vegetarian during my first year prompted by a bout of food poisoning from KFC on day one.

By year two, not only was I a carnivore again, I’d also grown bored of my 10-minute prep meals and longed for something different.

Enter Lucy B.

Lucy and I moved into a houseshare on July 7th 2003 and by August, I wanted her to teach me how to cook. She cooked everything. Fancy lasagna – check. Chili – check. Our Christmas dinner that year – checkity check. She once did a graphic design project on the time it took to prepare a meal versus the time spent actually consuming the meal. The last time I saw her, in July 2009, I happened to be working not far from where she lived in London. She was getting ready to go on one of her first dates with ‘this guy she’d met’, who later became her husband mind you, and yet still, she served me coffee and homemade blueberry muffins.

Now, despite me once twice almost burning the house down and once blowing all the fuses by turning on the sandwich toaster, back in 2003, Lucy agreed to help me learn how to cook. Although, I don’t think we ever told her about the sandwich toaster. She may have been out at the time.

After a few false starts and Lucy arriving home to find me panicking in front of a pan of frying meat, I managed to eventually master my first dish: Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne.

It quickly became my go-to dish for impressing friends and family and was the first thing I ever cooked for The Canadian One when he travelled to my town to see me in those first few weeks of dating. It’s become a staple dish on our menu as I tend to make a large batch of it and freeze it separately in freezer bags for when it’s The Canadian One’s turn to ‘cook’ dinner…aka make rice and reheat the chili….and he does it ever so well.

It’s become so ubiquitous in our home that when ‘kidney beans’ appears on the shopping list, The Canadian One immediately says, ‘We’re having chili!’

It’s the most requested recipe I have in my repertoire and here it is in all it’s glory:

Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne

 1-2 onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

Vegetable oil for frying (I use olive oil)

2 level tsp chili powder (or more if you like it hotter)

1 red chilli

1 tsp cumin

500g ground beef

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of kidney beans

1 tsp tomato purée

salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft.

2. Add chili powder, red chili, cumin, salt and pepper. Fry for 1 minute.

 3. Add ground beef, frying until browned. At this point, I usually drain the fat off the beef as I find it makes the dish feel less greasy but it’s a personal preference.

4. Add tomatoes, tomato purée and more seasoning. Bring to boil.

5. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. (I sometimes simmer for 90 minutes)

 6. Add kidney beans, cover and simmer for a further 30 minutes.

Serve with fluffy rice. I often serve it with mixed with some small conchiglia pasta. You can top it with red chili flakes (for a hotter taste), grated cheese or sour cream….or all three! Delicious!

You can substitute beef for pork and add a pinch of oregano to the chili with the tomatoes.


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