Sunday, July 10, 2016

Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots

I had an eye opening experience this winter when, deep in the throes of meat and potato season, I realized I was eating a disproportionate amount of protein and carbs as compared to vegetables. The star of the show I was calling dinner featured juicy steak, crispy chicken, or some kind of amazing pasta dish - and then onto each plate I would place the token vegetable.

A spoonful of frozen mixed veggies, some sorry ass boiled broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower (if I was feeling ambitious), or a scoop of pickled beets would take up tiny slivers of space on the dinner plate while constantly being overshadowed by the much sexier array of main dishes and sides I was spotlighting.

It occurs to me, this is familiar territory... myself at grade 7 dances. While the pretty girls were asked to slow dance to Stairway to Heaven, I sat on the bench and adjusted the tape on my glasses.

Lonely. Nerdy. Forgotten.

People, think about the message we've been sending the carrot! 

Well verily, just as I blossomed from a shy 7th grader to become the bastion of fabulousity you know and love today, so too shall the carrot! No longer a scrawny afterthought on the side of a plate, with a little TLC, I've turned the lowly carrot into a Goddess of culinary supremacy!


 And the carrot shall rise!

In all seriousness, this dish is absolutely spectacular. I served it to my husband as the main event last night and though he was somewhat icy at first over the prospect of getting a plate full of carrots and rice, once he got into it, he was raving. And not in a bad way.

The carrots roast to a tender perfection and then are slathered in a sesame maple glaze and roasted again until the glaze gets sticky. Served over Jasmine rice with more of the sesame maple glaze, salted peanuts, and cilantro, you get a perfect balance of sweet and salty on the palette and, I promise, you won't have left overs!

I love this dish so much, I would totally ask it to dance. Only to Tupac. Because hip hop.

Try this, please - and let me know if you do...

Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots
Visit the printable recipe here: Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots

Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a starter or side
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar  
  • 2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch chili pepper flakes
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Shake the first 6 ingredients together in a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Toss the carrots, whole, in the olive oil, place each on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with the salt.
  4. Roast for app 45 minutes turning periodically until they're browning on all sides.
  5. Remove from the tray to a large bowl and pour have of the sesame sauce you made earlier over the carrots, toss well, place back on the baking sheet, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and return to the oven. Roast an additional 5-7 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn, until the sauce has caramelized onto the carrots. 
  6. Serve the carrots on plates over a bed of cooked Jasmine rice (as per the photo). Drizzle equal amounts of the reserved sauce over each plate and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sesame Ramen Salad

I've been eating a mostly plant based diet for over a month and I have to say I've never felt better. I'm not sure if that's because I'm not eating meat, or more likely, because I'm eating from a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables - either way I'm having a lot of fun doing it!

This summer I'm going to be all about trying fruits and vegetables in new ways and I'm looking forward to grilling radishes, making all kinds of different pestos, and generally stepping up my veggie game.

In the spirit of that, I've also been experimenting with new ways to make old favourites - like Ramen - and trying some of the amazing products available like Mandarin Crispy Chick'n.

My friend told me about this gmo free, organic product and from the first bite of these delicious nuggets I was hooked! Better still, they go perfectly with today's recipe for Sesame Ramen Salad.

 Easy and oh so tasty! Please enjoy the recipe...

Sesame Ramen Salad
Visit printable recipe here: Sesame Ramen Salad

Ingredients Maple Sesame Dressing
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar  
  • 2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch chili pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in a jar, shake well, refrigerate until ready to use.

Ingredients Salad 
  • 3 packages Ichiban Ramen, flavour packets removed (I buy the miso flavour and then use the seasoning packet for other dishes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 stalk diced celery
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled into ribbons using carrot peeler
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced, peeled cucumber
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil
  2. Chop and dice the vegetables and peanuts
  3. Immerse the Ramen in the boiling water and using forks turn them over, move them around, and cook just until they begin to come apart - no more than a minute. They should still be slightly under-cooked when you drain them. 
  4. Drain and then immerse in cold water. Drain again and give them a second cold water bath. 
  5. Drain and place in a large salad bowl. 
  6. Add the cilantro and all of the vegetables and toss with the dressing. 
  7. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chopped nuts and toss again. 
  8. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

West Coast Salad

I was out of town on business last week and had a delicious salad called the "West Coast Chopped" at Original Joes. It was so delicious, I decided I wanted to create something like it at home - and WOWZERS people!!!! This might just be the best salad I have ever had or made!

A scrumptious combination of candied maple chick peas and pecans sit atop a bed of greens, chopped veggies, avocado, and mandarin orange segments. Everything gets tossed in a maple infused salad dressing that is so damn delicious you'll be licking the bowl, and then topped with crumbly, creamy, slightly salty chevre cheese.

The nuts and the chick peas pack enough protein to make this a filling dinner salad for two, or an amazing first course for 4-6!

West Coast Salad 
Printable recipe here:  West Coast Salad

Ingredients, Salad
  • 1 – 15 oz can Chickpeas  
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 cup tinned mandarin orange segments, drained 
  • Chevre cheese
Ingredients, Dressing 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. Mix the salad dressing ingredients together, cover and refrigerate at least an hour.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Spread on a parchment lined sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and shake the pan around periodically to promote even browning. 
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon together.
  4. Place the roasted chick peas and pecans in a large bowl and coat evenly with the butter and maple syrup mixture. 
  5. Return to the parchment covered pan, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and continue to roast for about 10 minutes. Watch these carefully as you don't want the nuts to burn. 
  6. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. 
  7. When ready to serve, place the salad greens, veggies, avocado,  and mandarin orange segments into a large bowl and toss with about 1/3 cup of the salad dressing or enough to suit your tastes.
  8. Place on individual plates.  Sprinkle with desired amounts of cheese and candied pecans/chick peas

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Vegan Spaghetti with "Meat" Sauce - so Amazing no one will believe it's meatless!

I haven't posted a recipe for almost three months. This because I was feeling uninspired and in need of a break - and what a break it's been! Not only am I feeling recharged and ready to get back into the world of cooking and recipe development, I do so now with a whole new slant on things because I've become a vegetarian.

This isn't to say, for all you non-veggies out there, that I think any less of my classic Kitchen Witch recipes - not at all people - my food is DAMN good! So check out my recipe index for all your favourites.

But here's where I'm going to have some fun...

I'm going to take the best of the best of my favourite Kitchen Witch recipes and convert them into vegetarian or vegan versions of the original without losing the essence of the recipe, the taste, texture flavour etc. and I'm starting with my recipe for Old Fashioned Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.

The original, as pictured above, is every bit as delicious as it looks and is one of my family's all time favourite dinners. I've been making it exactly as is for so many years my husband has the flavours memorized - so I knew this was the perfect recipe to try an adapt and fool him with, because that's the other twist: I'm going to re-create the recipes and try to pass them off as the orginals!

That said, I have to admit sweet, sweet victory with my first attempt!

My sauce turned out so delicious and so identical to the original my husband was shocked! Better still, just like the original, it made lots and freezes beautifully so one recipe will feed a family of 4-6 for 2 or 3 meals!

But how did I do it?

The biggest challenge for getting the taste right was to try my best to duplicate the depth of flavour sweet Italian sausage brought to the original recipe. So I went to my pantry to see what I had, and when I spotted the chick peas I wondered if anyone out there in google land had ever made a version of sausage with chick peas.

Lo and behold, someone had! So I took an idea from Sophia at Veggies Don't Bite, for Chickpea Vegan Sausage Crumbles and modified the spices to re-create the taste I was looking for. I also subbed in Yves veggie ground round (LOVE this product!), and added sesame oil, and Tamari Soy sauce for that elusive umami/depth of flavour.

If you love a good spaghetti sauce, I hope you'll give this version a try. I think you'll be surprised by how amazing it is! Or come and visit me in the Casa de Kitchen Witch on Youtube! I always have wine and I love having company :-)

Vegan Spaghetti with "Meat" Sauce
Visit the printable recipe here: Vegan Spaghetti Sauce


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 package Yves Veggie Ground Round (about 2 cups)
  • 1 540 ml tin chick peas
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Italian "Sausage" spice blend (see below)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 tsp each black pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar 
  • 2 large cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 796 ml (28 oz) tin Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 680 ml tin tomato sauce
  1. Drain the chick peas and dry well on a paper towel. 
  2. Roll the chick peas on the paper towel and remove the skins on as many of the chick peas as possible - they come off very easily. 
  3. Mash the chick peas until they resemble a crumble. Sprinkle with the sausage spice blend, toss well, and bake on parchment paper in a 425 oven for 20 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Saute the diced onion, diced celery and sliced button mushrooms in the extra virgin olive oil just until the onion is soft and translucent and the mushrooms begin to go golden.
  5. Add the garlic and continue saute about a minute until it becomes fragrant.
  6. Add the Yves ground round and the sesame oil and break it up in the pan using a spatula.
  7. Add the chick pea crumble, the Italian plum tomatoes, tomato sauce, the dried herbs and seasoning, the Tamari soy sauce and the sliced black olives. Stir, reduce heat, cover, and continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes. 
  8. Serve over spaghetti cooked to al dente. 
Italian Sausage Spice Blend Ingredients 
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes for "hot" ( 1 tsp for "medium) (1/2 tsp for "mild)
  • 3/4 tsp ground celery or ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
Mix well and store in an air tight jar.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Burgers

 This week's recipe is so easy and delicious I can't say enough about it! I got the idea while eating crunchy, delicious buffalo wings at a pub one Friday night and thought... I wonder what a buffalo flavoured chicken burger might be like?

The rest, as they say, is history!

Visit the printable recipe here: Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Burgers

The crunch, the tenderness of the chicken, and the flavours all add up to a big mouthful of delicious! So join me in the Casa de Kitchen Witch and let me show you how easy these are to make!

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Sauce
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing or mayonnaise
  • 2 cups whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs 
  • 4 ciabatta buns
  • iceberg lettuce
  • sliced tomato
  1. Mix the red hot sauce and blue cheese dressing together.
  2. Butterfly the chicken breasts and slice into 4 equal portions.
  3. Coat the breasts on either side and then dredge on the breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake in a 350 oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Serve on buns with mayo or more blue cheese dressing, lettuce, and sliced tomato. 

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.  


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chipotle Chorizo Eggs Benedict

With the spring equinox and Easter just around the corner, I thought I'd try something different breakfast wise - and what better dish to play with than classic eggs benny? Confession: I've always been a sucker for a good poached egg - so slather that in hollandaise sauce and I'm pretty much in love.

But what if I got a little jiggy with it and spiced things up with chorizo sausage, and chipotle? People, WHAT IF??

I'll tell you what if... MASSIVE DELICIOUSNESS!!

So join me this week in the Casa de Kitchen Witch and I'll show you just how easy these are to make! 

Visit the printable recipe here: Chipotle Chorizo Eggs Benny


Chipotle Chorizo Eggs Benny

  • 1 tablespoon finely crushed/chopped chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • Adobo sauce to taste
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage
  • 3 extra crispy English muffins
  • 6 large eggs
  • fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
  1. Gently heat the sour cream and mayo, and then whisk in 1 tbsp of crushed chipotle peppers, along with enough adobo sauce to suit your taste and the fresh squeezed lime juice.
  2. Remove the sausage meat from their casings. Divide into six equal portions and form into 6 patties
  3. Fry the chorizo patties in a non stick pan until cooked through and crispy. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Split three English muffins and then lightly butter each half.  Place the english muffins onto a non-stick baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted.Turn the oven off and keep warm until ready to serve.
  5. Poach 6 eggs for three minutes. 
  6. Place a sausage patty onto each toasted English muffin half followed by a perfectly poached egg, a generous dollop of the chipotle sauce, and finish with fresh cilantro.
Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole - Healthy(er) Version

The first time I ever had grits was on a trip to New Orleans. The hotel I stayed at had the most incredible breakfast buffet featuring classic American dishes like biscuits and red eye gravy, corned beef hash, and something that looked and tasted like cream of wheat that the hotel claimed was grits.

I'm not gonna lie. As a Canadian who had been hearing about, reading about, and yes, even dreaming about this magical edible from the south for years, the pale, somewhat flaccid, mound of goop in my bowl was a huge disappointment.

I left the Big Easy with a love of beignets, po boys, and the entirety of the French Quarter, but sadly, returned to Canada with a skewed impression of grits.

Flash forward a few years. I was taking an Italian cooking class and one of the dishes we prepared was Polenta. From the first bite of the cheesy, corny goodness we were slathering in tomato sauce, I was hooked - so imagine my surprise when the chef/instructor informed the group that polenta is very similar to grits.

I was back in business!

Since then I've cooked grits in many different ways and have adapted some of the old time recipes I've found to make them lighter and healthy(er) without losing the integrity of the dish or the flavour  - which is exactly what I've done with this week's recipe for Shrimp and Grits Casserole.

This recipe is such an easy dish to throw together - I often prepare it the night before or in the morning before work. That way, when I get home I can pop it into the oven and get about the more important business of a glass of wine and a good book.

Get the printable recipe here:  Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Or cook along with me in the Casa de Kitchen Witch and I'll show you step by step just how easy this is to make!

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 % milk
  • 1 1/2 cups no sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry corn grits or polenta
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheese
  • 4 cups cooked shrimp
  • 2 tsp of Creole seasoning spice
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 tbsp of finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1m 540 ml can stewed tomatoes or Rotel
  • 1/2 cup(s) light Cream Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the grits; reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the cheese, egg, and cayenne pepper. Spoon mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  4. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. Saute the onions and peppers in a non-stick pan misted with cooking spray or olive oil over medium high heat until they just begin to grow soft and translucent. Add two tsp of creole spice and the chopped garlic and saute until the garlic is soft and fragrant ( about 45 seconds). Add the can of stewed tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn to low and leave to simmer five minutes. Add the cooked shrimp and the cream cheese and stir until well incorporated. Remove from heat.
  6. When grits have baked for 15 minutes, pour the shrimp mixture over the warm casserole, sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes before serving. 

Nutritional analysis

Serving size: 388 grams

Amount Per Serving
Calories 265
Total Fat 6.8g
Saturated Fat 3.6g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 166mg
Sodium 707mg
Vitamin A 35%     •     Vitamin C 61%
Calcium 31%     •     Iron 39%
Nutrition Grade A-

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.