I Love Squash, Squashy, Squash, Squash: Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan

I love squash, squashy, squash squash…or is it scotch that I love…hmmm…either way this baked spaghetti squash recipe is da bomb!

Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is totally one of the best vegetables out there! It’s just so damn versatile; it can be your meatless main, a great side, and it has a built in container! Like what other vegetable can even say that?!

The only downside for me as far as spaghetti squash goes is how much I love roasted spaghetti squash vs. how long it can take to roast spaghetti squash. Sometimes roasting for 45 minutes + is just not an option but now-a-days (am I old enough to say things like now-a-days?) there are tons of great recipes for your slow cooker or even the microwave that can cut your cook time way down – so no excuses, make this Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan RIGHT NOW! For 2-4 servings you’ll need:

  • 1 Whole Spaghetti Squash
  • EVOO
  • 1 Small Onion, Chopped
  • 1-2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • Tomatoes (whatever kind is on sale is fine but the cherry tomatoes are nice for a splurge), quartered or halved, or leave some whole – no worries!
  • ¾ C Parmigianino Reggiano, Grated (this is great recipe to use really good cheese in – none of that pre-grated crap please! If you’re not sure what constitutes really good cheese go visit the folks at Paddy’s Cheese, tell ‘em I say “Hi!”.)
  • ½ C Fresh Basil, Chopped
  • 2 tsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

If you have the time I definitely love roasting the squash, to do that preheat your oven to 375, cut the squash in half, drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes – I actually like to flip them a couple times as they cook so the cut side can get some browning action as well.  You’ll know it’s cooked when you run a folk across the flesh and the strands pull away easily. Let the squashes cool while you make the sauce.

Spaghetti Squash

Heat some EVOO in a pan over medium heat and sauté the onion until just translucent, add in the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add in the tomatoes and let them kind of wilt and burst, a few minutes more, then add the balsamic, salt and pepper. Add the spaghetti squash strands and the tomato paste and toss to coat everything.

Tomatoes

Right before you serve add in the basil and the Parmigianino Reggiano, garnish with a little extra basil (and maybe another sprinkle of parm if you’re nasty!).

This reheats like a dream so make a big batch and you’ve got lunches for the week!

Cheers!

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If You Don’t Like Fall, I Don’t Like You: Homemade & Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cuppa

It’s officially fall (aka pumpkin spice season) and I couldn’t be happier!

I know some folks out there are “over” the pumpkin spice trend but seriously give your head a shake! Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves…all delicious, combining all of those things…SUPER MEGA DELICIOUS! Embrace the pumpkin spice!

Now, don’t get me wrong because I’m a fan of the Starbucks PSL but you know just as well as I do, that shit is so not good for you! Look it up – 52g of carbs, 240mg sodium, 49 g OF SUGAR (not to mention Starbucks won’t share with the world the ingredient list…), and 380 calories of deliciousness. The good news is you can whip up a super healthy version at home and impress the hell out of your peeps by serving up this Homemade & Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cuppa.

PSL

It’s crazy easy, take about 10 minutes, and literally tastes like pumpkin pie in a cup. Here’s what you’ll need for 2 servings:

  • 2½ c of Milk or Non-Dairy Milk (I use almond milk)
  • 5-6 Tbsp. of Pumpkin Puree (not the Pumpkin PIE stuff, the real, natural pumpkin stuff)
  • ½ tsp. each of any combination of the following (total of 2 tsp) :
    • Ginger
    • Cinnamon
    • Allspice
    • Nutmeg
    • Cloves (go a little lighter on the cloves, they are potent)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (the good stuff please, we live in Canada after all!)
  • Whipped Cream (or not – you decide)

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pot and whisk until smooth (and I mean real smooth!). Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently so nothing burns to the bottom of the pot. Let it simmer for a few minutes and give it a taste, feel free to add in a little more of anything that you like.

Need a little spice in your life? Add a pinch of black pepper or cayenne for an extra kick. You could also add in a shot of espresso or some strong coffee if you’re jonesing for your caffeine fix.

Serve with the whipped cream (if using) and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Click here to check out my inspiration for the recipe!

At this point you may be wondering to yourself, “what if I wanted to try this Pumpkin Spice Cuppa but also wanted to get drunk?” Easy my friend, add in some brandy or whiskey and remember the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. Kidding, I 100% support all kinds of warm alcoholic beverages – go on with your bad self!

Cheers!

Meatless Monday: The BEST Baked Falafel

I know what you’re thinking, “really Linds…the best baked falafel…the best?” Yes, THE BEST falafel I have ever put in my mouth – don’t patronize me!

Before this recipe I wouldn’t have said I was a big fan of falafel. When I’d tried it in the past I would find it dry and not particularly flavourful unless it was dosed with tzatziki. But one day I came across this recipe from How Sweet Eats and I don’t know what came over me but I just felt like this was IT, the falafel I’d be waiting for my entire life…and I was right! This is some life changing falafel!

falafel

Even if you think you don’t like falafel give this recipe a go – it’s quick and actually kind of fun to make AND you can make a super cool falafel ‘bar’ like I did and have some fun building your own delicious falafel sandwiches. Here’s what you need for this home run Meatless Monday dish:

For the Falafel:

  • 2 (14 oz) Cans of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 Green Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • Big Handful of Parsley
  • Big Handful of Cilantro (could use mint instead if you’re not into cilantro)
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ c Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp of Baking Powder

For the Falafel Bar:

  • Mini Pita Pockets
  • Feta
  • Romaine Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Red Bell Pepper, Sliced
  • Tzatziki
  • Hummus

Alright, that might seem like a lot of ingredients but it’ll be totes worth it, I promise!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Throw your chickpeas, green onions, garlic, egg, lemon zest and juice, oil, herbs and spices into a food processor or blender and pulse until you get a crumbly mixture that still has some chunkiness to it. Add to that half of the flour and baking powder and pulse until combined then toss in the rest of the flour and baking powder whizzing everything up until smooth-ish, you can also leave this a little chunkier if you prefer.

Now all you do is line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and form the mixture into balls with your hands (I used a super heaping tablespoon amount) – this is messy so take of your jewelry and enjoy it! If you have the time I like to chilled the formed falafel in the fridge for 15-20 minutes so they can firm up a bit (this is also a great opportunity to fix yourself a cocktail) but if you’re short on time you can skip this step.

Now bake these guys for about 10 minutes per side, I like them to have a nice crisp on the outside so to help them brown up a little more I drizzle with some EVOO before I pop them in the oven.

falafel bar

While the falafels are baking you can cut up and arrange your accoutrements and then serve with the warm falafel.

Cheers!

Make Ahead Healthy Egg White Breakfast Bagel

They say a meal without alcohol is…breakfast – this is sad but true (generally)! Despite this, I am a HUGE breakfast fan and I am a little obsessed with make ahead, grab and go type breakfasts. I love being able to prep an entire weeks’ worth of breakfasts on a Sunday and get a little extra beauty sleep during the week.

I’m always looking for fast, healthy, easy, delicious breakfast options and my latest creation, the Healthy Egg White Breakfast Bagel checks all the boxes!

Breakfast Bagel

Here’s how to make an entire weeks’ worth of breakfasts for two people in less than an hour! You’ll need:

  • 10 Weight Watchers Whole Wheat Bagels or Dempsters Thin Bagels (hey, they’re ‘healthy’ after all)
  • 1 lg. Carton of Egg Whites
  • 1 Package of Laughing Cow “Cheese” (I used the jalapeno flavour…zesty)
  • 1 Bag of Spinach
  • 2 Tomatoes, sliced in half moons
  • 1 Cucumber, sliced in half moons
  • Donut Pan (yes, that is a real thing) or 9”x13” type of baking pan

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Fill you donut pan (or regular baking pan) with some eggs white. How much you fill it is really up to you, the eggs won’t puff up very much so pour in enough egg white to reach your desired thickness of baked egg…which sounds gross somehow…but it will be delicious! Season your eggs with salt, pepper, whatever you like and DO NOT forget to grease your pan with EVOO – these eggs are not going to want to come out of your pan so you really need to make sure you’ve got some oil in there!

Bake your eggs for about 10 minutes, until they are set/not very jiggly.

While you’re waiting for you oven to preheat/eggs to bake you can prep your veggies, slice the tomato and cucumbers, and start toasting your bagels.

Once you have a toasted bagel you can start to assemble. I spread both sides with some if the Laughing Cow “Cheese” and then layer some spinach and tomato on the bottom side of the bagel. On the top side of the bagel I put down a few of the cucumber slices and season all that with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Once you’ve gotten your eggs out of your pan (if using the donut pan I used a small spoon to help wedge mine out. If using a regular pan just cut the egg into 10 even pieces and remove with a flipper type utensil) place them on top of the tomato and top off with the other half of the bagel. Repeat 9 times! I wrap each one in tin foil (sorry environment) and store in the fridge all week for a quick, delicious, and filling breakfast.

Happy Friday Ya’ll, Cheers!

Mini Shrimp Tacos for Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

What’s not to love about a celebration that typically includes margaritas?!

Wikipedia tells me that Cinco dy Mayo is a Mexican-American celebration held on May 5th to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the early years of the American Civil War.  Wikipedia goes on to say:

The American Cinco de Mayo celebration originated in the Mexican-American communities of the American West, Southwest, and Northwest in the 1860s. Mexicans and Latinos living in California during the American Civil War are credited with being the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States. It grew in popularity and evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, first in areas with large Mexican-American populations, like Los Angeles,  Chicago, and Houston. Eventually it expanded across the United States. On June 7, 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

So there’s the educational content for today. Moving on, Mini Shrimp Tacos!

Mini Tacos

These little darlings have a couple different components to them but are still pretty easy to pull together. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Chili Lime Shrimp:

  • Shrimp (fresh, frozen…all good!), 1 shrimp per taco
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • Cayenne (a pinch -1 tsp.)
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Chipotle Cream:

  • ½c Greek Yogurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Chipotle Hot Sauce (or the liquid from a can of Chilies in Adobo)
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Avocado Mash:

  • 1-2 Avocados
  • Salt
  • 1 Bag of Scoops Tortilla chips
  • Cilantro to garnish

Turn the broiler on high and mix up the spices for the Chili Lime Shrimp.  If using frozen shrimp, thaw them according to package directions. Lay the shrimp out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture. If using fresh shrimp broil until they turn pink and are cooked through (3 minutes a side or so), if using frozen shrimp give them a minute under the broiler and then pour off any excess liquid that has accumulated in the baking sheet – continue cooking (and draining if needed) until they are warm through.

Mash the avocado with a pinch of salt.

Mix the Greek yogurt with the chipotle sauce of your choosing, cumin, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble spread out the tortilla chips on your serving platter and fill each one with a ½ tsp. or so of the Avocado Mash, lay a Chili Lime Shrimp on top of that and then drizzle with some of the Chipotle Cream. Top each Mini Shrimp Taco with a small sprinkle of fresh cilantro and serve…preferably with a lime margarita on the rocks!

Mini Shrimp Taco

You can check out the inspiration for these delicious morsels by clicking here.

Cheers!

The Single Ladies Meal Plan

Dear Single Folk of Safeway:

STOP HANGING OUT IN THE FROZEN FOOD AISLE!

Fur realz! You can do so much better than Lean Cuisine and pre-made salads!

Look, I know it’s tough to cook for one and that it might not seem ‘worth’ the energy to prepare a dinner if you’re flying solo but I honestly can’t think of a simpler and more satisfying thing that you could do for yourself on a daily(ish) basis. With a solid meal plan that utilizes ingredients in multiple recipes designed to eliminate waste and full of foods that you love, I would hope you might start to actually look forward to cooking.

Another common complaint I hear from my single ladies is that cooking is too hard or time consuming. It’s like they think they need to be making fancy gastronomy foams or SousVide beef cooked to exactly 100 degree to be classified as “cooking”– that’s such bullshit! There are a lot of crazy talented chefs out there but don’t let it dictate your confidence in your cooking – real food is good food, save the fancy stuff for the pros. A good old baked potato can totally be a delicious and respectable meal (and I can prove it!)

Here is what I would make for myself if I was cooking for one and to make it even easier, I’ve included a grocery list below!

Monday: Strawberry Balsamic and Basil Grilled Cheese – this is fancy looking stuff but don’t be fooled, it is literally JUST a grilled cheese sandwich, cooked in the oven no less – you can’t get much easier than that AND it’s only 5 ingredients! This will cure (along with half a bottle of wine) the worst case of the Mondays.

Strawberry Grilled Cheese

Tuesday: Salmon with Green Beans en Papillote – again, this sounds fancy but it’s not! Click here for the basics for doing ANY kind of en papillote (cooked in paper). You could really play around here with different proteins and veg but if I were making it I would use green beans and salmon topped with lemon slices, fresh dill, and capers. I would use up some of yesterdays grilled cheese bread by toasting a couple slices and spreading some cream cheese on them…mmmmmmm.

Wednesday: Loaded Mexican Baked Potato – OMG there are so many things you can do with a baked potato or baked sweet potato – it’s actually overwhelming (http://www.buzzfeed.com/arielknutson/amazing-ways-to-eat-a-baked-potato-for-dinner)! One of the best things about a baked potato is there are so many ways to cook these guys. I often opt for the slow cooker (7-8 hours on low) but you could also use your microwave (10 minutes on high, turning once half way through) or oven (425 degrees for 45-60 minutes). One of my faves is a baked russet potato with salsa, black beans, and a dollop of Greek yogurt (it makes it a little extra special if you add some sliced green onion and shredded sharp cheese but that’s your call!)

Baked Potato Cooking Methods

Mexi Potato

Thursday: Quick Tomato Basil Pasta – use up the left over ingredients from the week in a quick pasta. Use any type of noodles you have around, chop some tomato, the left over basil from your grilled cheese sandwich, some garlic and toss with some mozzarella (a totally “worth it” splurge: get the fresh mozzarella from the deli, it will change your life!). This recipe is meant to inspire you so don’t feel that you need to follow it word for word.

Friday: Date Night/Dinner with Friends/ ordering a large pizza (and eating it all) and watching Netflix

OK, some quick ideas for lunches and breakfast:

Monday: Fancy Pants Cheese and Crackers – take a hunk of your brie, some of the cheddar (from the baked potato), and the mozzarella (if using fresh just slice of a few pieces and leave the rest in the water/brine) and pair with whole grain crackers, strawberries, and apple slices.

Tuesday:  Make 2 of the grilled cheese sandwiches and pack one for lunch, girl!

Wednesday:   Make a little extra salmon and green beans and turn that into a salad for lunch.

Thursday: Do up 2 Loaded Mexican Potatoes in the evening and voila!

Friday: Left over pasta

For breakfast I would get a large container of plain Greek Yogurt and eat that with fresh fruit, granola, and honey but be sure to save some yogurt for the Loaded Mexi Baked Potatoes!

Here is the Meal Plan Layout as well as the Shopping List – seriously, I can’t make this any easier!

Single Ladies Meal Plan

Single Ladies Shopping List

So, can it with the excuses friends! This is like a colour by numbers for feeding yourself so give it a try and see what you think! And for god sake will someone please get me a cocktail, these posts are exhausting!

Cheers!

Chicken ‘n’ Waffles: Food of the Gods

OK, first blog post…no pressure!

For quite a while now I’ve been grappling with the idea of starting a blog. On one hand I LOVE the idea of sharing recipes and DIYs with friends and the internet at large but on the other hand I wonder if I’ll run out of things to post about in less than a week! It feels like I’m opening the curtains of my life and giving the world a look inside. All that said I have around zero followers right now so let’s give it a whirl!

The premise for this blog will be FOOD! Cooking food, eating food, talking about food, and rarely do I do any of those things without a cocktail in hand – thus Will Cook for Cocktails it is. I’ll also sprinkle in a pinch of DIY (as a fairly new homeowner I have many projects to tackle) and lifestyle posts (I’m a passionate Edmontonian and downtown dweller who loves to talk about this city and all the goings on in it).

But to kick things off it just has to be a food post and one of my all-time favorite things to eat has to be Chicken ‘n’ Waffles! If you’re not feeling up to cooking up your own version of CnW I highly recommend you pay The Common a visit and order up a plate of theirs. These Chicken ‘n’ Waffles have turned friends into foes and lovely polite ladies into gluttonous unrefined sea hags.

Now, many have questioned me about this particular dish, “Really? Chicken and waffles? I don’t get it” and to them I say shut up and eat it! And never once have I heard anything less than orgasmic mummers come out of those mouths.

The CnW recipe I want to share is from a recent Instragram post (@lindsceebee), I dubbed them Mini Chicken ‘n’ Waffles (obvs).

CnW

These suckers are quick and easy! They can be served hot or at room temperature and you can improvise with what you have on hand. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 Package of Kellogs® Eggo® Minis
  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts, cut into 1-1½ inch pieces
  • A bowl of All Purpose Flour (a small bowl, let’s call it 1-1½ cup)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1-1½ cups Kellogs® Corn Flake Crumbs
  • Honey
  • Hot Sauce
  • Green Onion, chopped
  • Any seasonings you like for the Corn Flake Crumbs (salt and pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, whatever floats you boat)

OK now preheat your oven to 400 degrees and set up your breading station:

  1. Get your flour in a small bowl, next to that crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with a fork (I added a little hot sauce to this, because I’m crazy like that), and next to that fill a bowl with your Corn Flake Crumbs (you could totally use regular bread crumbs or panko but the Corn Flakes give the chicken serious crunch). You can season the crumbs however you like; I kept it simple with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne.
  2. Toss the chicken pieces in the flour first and then coat with the egg mixture and lastly roll in the Corn Flake Crumbs. Once coated line the chicken piece on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  3. When the chicken is almost done toast the Mini Eggos.
  4. Assemble! Top each Eggo with a piece of chicken, and drizzle with honey (you could sub in maple syrup if you prefer) and a little more hot sauce. Top with a sprinkle of the chopped green onion and serve.

photo (2)

There you have it, a perfect game day snack!

If you’re wondering what cocktail I would recommend to wash down a delicious mouthful of Mini Chicken ‘n’ Waffles I would go for a Bud Lime Lime-A-Rita®. Cheers!

photo (3)