Sneaky Veggie Spaghetti Sauce #SundaySupper

Today Sunday Supper is all about being sneaky and fun with food. Whether it is making food look like something else like meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting, or sneaking in some healthy veggies so that the kids don’t notice it. When it comes to sneaking in veggies I use to have a very narrow minded point of view of this practice before I had kids. I thought it sounded so deceptive and surely kids should just be taught to eat veggies? Ha, what a perfect parent I was before I had kids.

The truth of the matter is I think while we might have some element of control about what kids eat we don’t have it all. For example my daughter has never had a processed chicken nugget so she doesn’t even know what it tastes like so she doesn’t prefer them over homemade ones. So that is some element of control I might have. However that doesn’t mean she doesn’t sometimes just flat out decide she doesn’t like homemade chicken nuggets. Does that make sense. She goes through phases where all of a sudden she just doesn’t like something. But I know that actually she does like most things, it is just getting her to remember and try the foods to rediscover she does like it. Like she loves the taste of food when it has herbs and spices, but if she sees those flecks of green she says, “What are those sprinkles? I don’t like sprinkles.”. So the idea of sneaking veggies into food is much more complicated then it sounds and these days I am all for it to a certain degree. I know people who have kids that HATE any form of green veggie, just the sight of it near their food and they refuse to eat dinner. I have had parents message me a lot about trying to find a recipe that would work to get their kids to eat a bit more healthy.

I came up with this idea just trying to use up some veggies that were close to going bad and it has become a default sauce recipe for me ever since. It was simple, tasty and whether she knew it or not I don’t know but my daughter loved it so I didn’t care. Because you use a lot of red, orange coloured veggies it hides the green from the courgette, and if you kids still can see it just peel the skin. I love roasting the veggies for an even better flavour but today chose to share the first way I ever put this together.

Don’t forget to check out the other clever ideas the rest of the Sunday Supper crew is sharing today.

Sneaky-Veggie-Pasta-Sauce

Sneaky Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

1 courgette (zucchini), chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 red peppers, chopped
1 medium size onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 tin of tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

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Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash #SundaySupper

Today is Sunday Suppers 2nd Birthday. Sunday Supper is the brain child of Isabel Reis Laessig. It was Isabel’s dream to inspire bloggers to help bring families back together at the dinner table. I joined this amazing group a year and a half ago and have loved being inspired by my other fellow bloggers. We were told to share our favourite memory of Sunday Supper today. Mine is bitter sweet in a way because my fondest memories of the last year and a half were the two times I was actually able to participate in the live twitter chat. Because of the time difference here in the UK I can’t participate in the twitter chats so the few times I have been able to participate have been so fun. These bloggers are so fun to hang out with. If you haven’t joined them yet on Sunday nights for the twitter chats you need to. Until I joined this group I had never really gotten into using twitter, I didn’t really get it. But joining this fabulous group of bloggers I discovered how fun twitter can be as a platform to talk to people all around the world. Hopefully I will be able to join in on more chats in the future but until then I just enjoy the fellowship I get with this community through our blogs.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash

2 medium sweet onions, sliced
(10 oz) mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil and more as needed
(1/4 c.) balsamic vinegar
1 medium size butternut squash
olive oil for drizzling
handful of chopped walnuts *optional

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NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce #SundaySupper

So I couldn’t decide at first if I would participate in this weeks Sunday Supper event, even though the theme was Holiday Music/Movie/TV Inspired dishes, which is such a fun theme. Why did I hesitate? Well today is a special day, it is my 5 year anniversary. But our recent trip to New York inspired me so I decided to honour my husband’s favourite Christmas movie, Die Hard, with this post. Every time we go to New York my husband says we need to try a authentic NY hot dog from one of the hundreds of hot dog stalls around the city. But every time we go I chicken out. I am not a hot dog fan, I don’t eat meat that isn’t at least 80% meat and even then the other 20% needs to be whole ingredients so hot dogs aren’t something I would normally eat. But I do know that for things like this a sausage doesn’t quite provide the same taste and texture. So I did some research and was happy to find there is a company here in the UK that makes a hot dog with 82% pork and the rest of the ingredients aren’t too horrific as I know what they are, when you can’t pronounce an ingredient and you have no idea it is that is when I run. So I decided to finally eat a hot dog for the first time in 10 years and I have to say it was pretty good. What made it was this incredible onion sauce that from what I understand is a staple condiment on most of the NY hot dog cards. I picture it being just the thing a tough guy like John McClane would eat.

NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce

125mL (1/2 c.) water
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (I used Franks RedHot sauce)
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions, sliced thin (The recipe called for red onions but I didn’t have any on hand)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 frankfurters
4 buns
Recipe from Amazing Ribs

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Cottage Pie with Parsnip Mash

Finally the sun is shinning and we are getting the much needed spring weather that we have so needed. I have been desperate to get cracking on my neglected gardening. This weekend I pretty much stayed covered in dirt and loved every minute of it. I just finished putting in broccoli, curly kale, beets, cauliflower, french beans, peas, 3 types of tomatoes and peppers. So far my tomatillo, courgette (zucchini) and squash seedlings haven’t sprouted like but I am hoping this weather will help encourage them.

Do you do much gardening? I remember for years thinking I had a black thumb because I just seemed to kill everything I tried to grow. But I know understand that I just didn’t know what I was doing. Learning more about growing and taking care of plants has shown me that I can do it. And I love it so much. I would spend every day out in my garden if I could. Feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and my hands in the soil is so therapeutic.

The one thing that I struggle growing are parsnips and carrots. My soil is very rocky and things like carrots and parsnips really do better in less rocky conditions. I made an attempt last year but I have decided to hold off on trying again until I can either build an above ground garden with soil without rocks or we finally sift out some of the rocks. So until then when I want to enjoy amazing dishes like this cottage pie with parsnip mash I am going to have to sick to the parsnips I get from the market.

If you do garden what is the one thing that you struggle to grow in your garden?

Cottage Pie with Parsnip Mash

250g (1/2 lb) lean minced beef
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic, minced
4 carrots (about 450g/1lb), peeled and coarsely grated
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tomato purée
2 beef stock, cubes dissolved in 425ml/ 3/4 pint boiling water
1 tsp cornflour
350g (3/4 lb) potatoes peeled and cubed
350g (3/4 lb) parsnips, peeled and chopped
2-3 Tbsp skimmed milk
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

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Pea Shoot Risotto #SundaySupper

Sunday Supper is celebrating all things spring and green. I am so excited, dare I say desperate for spring. Winter refuses to give us a break here in the UK which is making everyone long for warmer weather all the more. I just hope we have a decent growing year. Last year was so terrible. Speaking of growing today I am featuring an ingredient that I fell in love with last year and I was going to be oh so clever and show you how easy it is to grow it at home on your window sill. But sadly it has been so cold that the ambient temperature in my house has been too cold for my little pea shoots and I have no growth to show you. But I can tell you how to do it and you can have a try at home. The cheapest way to do this is buy a box of dried peas from your grocery store, but you can buy seeds from a garden centre. Pick a wide pot, fill it nearly full with good potting soil. Don’t worry about spacing, scatter seeds on the soil thickly. Cover with another inch of potting soil and water thoroughly. Pea shoots sprout in a week or ten days and you can begin cutting them, when they are three or four inches long. Cut it so it leaves some of the stem poking through the soil still and it will continue to grow.

But if growing them at home isn’t your thing you can buy them at the store. They should be in the section of the store with packaged greens, like spinach and other salad mixes. These wonderful leafy delights do actually have a delicate taste of sweet peas. We love them garnished in a salad, on sandwiches and also in stir-fries. This was the first in something like a risotto and I have to say it was a wonderful success. I wish I had fully read my own instructions and chopped up the pea shoots finer but it didn’t effect the flavour. Definitely a dish to eat and think about the impending spring. I can’t wait to start sowing seeds and organizing my garden. If you too are longing for spring to hurry up and get here I hope these Sunday Supper Spring inspired dishes help get you in the mood.

Pea Shoot Risotto

1 Onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
300g (1 3/4 c.) Arborio rice
100g (1 c.) Sugar Snap Peas, cut in half
100g (3.5 oz) Pea Shoots, finely chopped
25g (1/4 c.) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1 1/2 pints vegetable stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
recipe from Pea Shoots

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