Creamy cauliflower dip with cashews and caramelized onions

If you’re looking for something special to bring to a potluck or a party, I have your solution. This dairy-free dip is creamy with a kick of spice and it won’t impact your waistline. But there’s no need to wait for a special occasion – whip it up today for an indulgence you don’t have to share.

Note to parents: don’t let the Santa plate fool you – the kids won’t touch this dip. It’s sweet and spicy with caramelized onions and hot sauce, which makes it too flavourful for most kids. I could make a kid-friendly version but not today. This one’s just for the grown-ups.

Warm vegan cauliflower dip
Straight from the oven, this creamy dip tastes naughty but is really nice.

This recipe is a bit more time consuming than others because you have to soak the cashews. If you have a high speed blender, you only need to soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes. If you don’t have a Vitamix or similarly powerful blender, you should probably soak them overnight.

Creamy cauliflower dip

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (or whatever kind you have on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup cauliflower (chopped very small)
  • 2 Tbsp oats
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Pour the boiling water over the raw cashews and soak them for 30 minutes or overnight (depending on the strength of your blender).

When you’re ready to make the dip, preheat the oven to 350 and find an ovenproof dish that can fit up to 3 cups of dip.

Heat a frying pan on medium-low heat, add the olive oil and the onion. Cook it for a few minutes until it starts to turn brown. Turn the heat down if it starts sticking. Add the garlic and cauliflower and continue to cook for another minute, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the balsamic vinegar, paprika, dry mustard and hot sauce and remove from the heat.

Put the cashews and their water in the blender with the oats and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Pour the cashew cream into the pan with the onion mixture and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the ovenproof dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with crackers, chips or fresh bread.

Vegan cauliflower dip
Even Santa approves of this nice treat.

Greens with roasted chickpeas, salty seed mix and a tangy avocado dressing

Vegan salad with roasted chickpeas and avocado dressing
Lettuce topped with avocado dressing, roasted chickpeas and a salty seed mix.

People often tell me they couldn’t be vegan because they could never give up cheese. I don’t miss it at all. In fact, when I think of where cheese comes from and I remember the smell of the dairy farm I visited (that inspired me to give up dairy), it turns my stomach.

One food that I do miss, though, is caesar salad. In my early teenage years, I loved caesar salad dressing. I didn’t like that caesar salads don’t include much in the way of vegetables so I would order a garden salad with the dressing and cover it in fresh pepper.

I’ve tried every vegan caesar salad dressing I could find and I was always disappointed. This dressing on my salad above gets its creaminess from avocado and it hits the spot.

Full disclosure – it didn’t pass the kids’ taste test. It was too tangy for my daughter and my son wasn’t interested. They had spaghettini with tomato sauce and roasted vegetables without any salad.

vegan spaghetti dinner
Spaghettini with tomato sauce and roasted vegetables.

I topped their tomato sauce with a salty seed mix.

Salty seed mix

  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Combine the seeds, nutritional yeast and salt in a little bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss it well to mix. Use to top pasta and salads.

Roasted chickpeas

Very simple stuff. Preheat the oven to 350. Drain a can of chickpeas and dry them off with a towel. Toss them in olive oil, salt and garlic powder and bake for 20 minutes. Bake further if you want them crunchy.

Vegan spaghetti dinner with salad
Salad, spaghettini with tomato sauce and vegetables

I won’t call my salad caesar because it isn’t a match but it is a nice change if you’re looking for a nice creamy dressing. Here’s how I make it.

Creamy avocado dressing

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 clove of garlic (I roasted my this time but raw is more caesar-like)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup water

Blend the ingredients together and serve.

To make the salad, I topped the lettuce with dressing to ensure ultimate coverage and topped it with the chickpeas and a sprinkling of the salty seed mix.

Find the recipe for the kid-friendly tomato sauce here. The roasted vegetables were chopped to bite-sized pieces and roasted at 425 for 30 minutes.

Bon appétit!


Thank you and a lasagna dinner

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Since I started this blog a month ago, I’ve gotten so much support from new friends and not-so-new friends and family. So I just want to say thank you to everyone who has visited, liked, commented, shared or followed me over the past month. As anyone who has started a website knows, it can be tough to get going but your interest and support that has encouraged me to continue. I hope you’ve found something of interest here and that you’ll return often! Your feedback is always appreciated!

Lasagna with focaccia

Vegan lasagna

My husband always jokes that I never blog about the dinners he makes. I’m very lucky to have married a man who worked as a cook at pubs when we were doing our undergraduate degrees. He has some signature crowd-pleasers that he has veganized over the years. Lasagna is one of them.

He makes a mean eggplant lasagna but the kids won’t touch it so he’s been keeping it simple since my son was born. Sauce, noodles, a tofu-based ricotta and repeat. Topped with Daiya cheese shreds and that’s it. The kids devour it.

Last night, he added a Bolognese layer with Yves veggie ground round – which was a nice change. And because it was the second layer, we were able to scrape the Bolognese layer off when my son refused to eat it. “What is the brown stuff?” he asked. “Delicious,” is my standard answer. “Taste it.”

One bite, and tears welled up in his eyes. We’d ruined his favourite meal. But no big deal, lasagna is a layered dish. We simply deconstructed his piece and rebuilt it. I don’t know why he doesn’t like the ground round from Yves. He likes their burgers.

My daughter didn’t pause at the Bolognese layer – she devoured the whole thing. As did the rest of us.

Vegan lasagna
Lasagna fresh from the oven.

He makes the ricotta cheese following a recipe in the Veganomicon (which apparently has a 10th anniversary edition! Veganomicon, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook).

My contribution to dinner was the focaccia. I made it a free form shape this time – which didn’t turn out as pretty but it had a nice, crispy crust. It’s rubbed in olive oil with a sea salt and rosemary topping.


It was the perfect dinner for a cold and snowy night. Tonight is supposed to be the same. Stay warm and thanks for stopping by!

Veggie burgers and fries

We came home from running around too late to make a nice meal so I grabbed the veggie burgers I picked up the other day and we made fries. The burgers are a new brand we hadn’t tried before: VG Gourmet Artisan Vegan Burgers. I got the lentil and walnut burgers with fresh herbs and wild mushrooms. Perhaps not the most kid-friendly choice since my picky eater likes neither fresh herbs nor mushrooms.


These burgers are packed with lentils and veggies that are visible in the patty – that’s nice for my husband and me but I knew if my kids were to see onions, they’d turn their noses up at the whole burger. So I covered them in melted Daiya cheese as a disguise.

The kids were not fooled. They topped their burgers with tomatoes, pickles, relish and ketchup and were eating them nicely at first. But in the end, these burgers were not a hit with the kids. They managed to get them down with extra pickles. We liked them a lot, however.


Though they were a bit drier than other veggie burgers, the flavours were unique and complex since there was a good variety of veggies in each burger. Often, veggie burgers try too hard to be like hamburgers and they fail. These burgers were not trying to disguise the veggies and I appreciated that.

The kids have taste preferences all of their own. But there are a few brands of veggie burgers that my kids like. They tend to like the ones that are uniform and hamburger-like more than the ones that are dotted with veggies the way I like them. But sometimes I slice off a square of tofu and grill it with a mild marinade for him to eat as a burger. Or sometimes we’ll make them veggie dogs while we have the burgers. But sometimes they surprise me and happily eat a whole burger. Just not tonight.

Sniffle-busting soup with ginger and garlic

Vegan wellness soup
My soup was topped with a generous helping of hot sauce – which also feels good on the throat.

When I picked the kids up from school yesterday, I had a telltale feeling in my sinuses that something was not right. By the time I made it in the door, I was glad to be near the kleenex box. I decided to fry up some garlic and ginger to make an immunity-boosting soup to stop the cold in its tracks.

All I wanted to do was eat my soup and cuddle up on the couch for the evening so it wasn’t going to be fancy – just the basics of a decent meal with enough ginger to kick the cold without causing a fuss from the kids. Luckily, I am able to bury plenty of ginger and garlic in a soup without paying for it with whine as long as the garlic has mellowed from being cooked.

I grabbed some rice noodles, tofu, mushrooms and shredded a carrot and got to work. It didn’t take long and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Soup with rice noodles and tofu
I picked the mushrooms out for my son – he did get one and declared it is still on his yucky list. No comment on the ginger and garlic!

Sniffle-busting soup

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 block of tofu, cubed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • rice noodles, cooked according to directions on package
  • sesame seeds
  • chives
  • hot sauce

Fry the garlic and ginger in the sesame oil on medium heat until browned. Add the mushrooms and tofu and cook until the mushrooms release their juices. Add the carrots and stir. Add the stock, soy sauce and mirin and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it down to simmer and prep the bowls.

The noodles should be cooked and drained. Divide the noodles among the bowls. Pour the broth and vegetables over the noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds (I used white and black), chives and hot sauce. Enjoy!

I woke up this morning feeling healthy – I think I’ve managed to kick it. I had some leftover soup for lunch so I’m sure that helped too. What do you do to keep the sniffles away?

Roasting chestnuts in the spirit of Christmas

chestnuts for roasting
A handful of chestnuts.

This weekend, the kids were really starting to get into the Christmas spirit. My husband dragged out the boxes of decorations and the kids found last year’s Christmas cards. They cut out their favourite images to make ornaments to decorate their mini Christmas trees.

Not quite ready to plunge headfirst into the Christmas season, I dipped my toe in by roasting chestnuts. If you’ve never roasted chestnuts before, I recommend giving them a try. The nuts are sweet and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Unlike other nuts, chestnuts are not a good source of healthy fats or protein but they’re surprisingly high in Vitamin C. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts as it lingers throughout the house.

Chestnuts should be treated more like vegetables than nuts – keep them in the fridge to keep them from going rancid. And buyer beware – you can’t tell a fresh nut from a mouldy nut without cracking it open so don’t bother picking them up from a bargain bin – lesson learned!

As pretty as the nuts look in my son’s hands, they weren’t edible. When we broke them apart, they were either mouldy or rock hard. I picked up another handful of nuts at the store for a second try. I cooked them alongside the pizza last night and they were better. But still, about a quarter of them were not good.

Next time I buy them, I’ll ask the grocer a few questions first about their storage before wasting my money.  I’m sure I would have had better luck at a higher quality grocery store or a specialty store.

Nevertheless, roasted chestnuts make a great treat to eat while watching Christmas movies – last night, we caught the first half of Home Alone before bedtime.

Roasting chestnuts

Preheat the oven to 425. While it’s preheating, cut a little slit in each chestnut. Don’t be lazy on this, if you don’t pierce the nuts, they will explode in your oven and make a huge mess. (Does this sound like a lesson learned? It is – but this was a lesson learned years ago in another oven.)

Place the pierced nuts on a cookie sheet and roast them for about 20 minutes in the oven. Let them cool before cracking into them.

Roasted chestnuts
Roasted chestnuts ready to be eaten.

Peel off the outer shell and any skin covering the light brown nut. They should be soft and starchy when you bite into them. If they’re hard or you see mouldy patches, discard them.

Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did finding fresh chestnuts at a store near you. If you do, let me know how and where you found them. Enjoy!


Rye boule and tomato-lentil soup with brown rice

Woke up to snow again this morning and when I got them out the door, the very excited kids crawled through the snow on their way to school. No wonder snow pants rarely last a whole season!

Rye and whole wheat bread

In this chilly November weather when our bones aren’t quite used to bundling up against the snow and wind, I crave rye bread. This bread was made with whole wheat flour, rye flour and all purpose flour, salt and water. Simple and good with a few flax seeds sprinkled over the top.

I didn’t give it time to ferment on the counter like I did with the baguettes last time but this loaf gets its flavour from the flours I used. I did leave it to rise for about three hours before shaping the loaf while preheating the oven and the pizza stone.

I wanted to have nice bread for tomorrow morning’s peanut butter and jam on toast but I doubt it will last until the morning – I may have to make another loaf. I made it using the technique in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. The website is

The technique involves mixing a full bowl of dough, letting it rise for the initial period and then pulling out the amount I need to make a loaf and putting the rest of the bread dough in the fridge.

Over the week, the dough in the fridge develops a sourdough flavour and I can make another loaf whenever I want. I just have to shape it and let it warm on the counter while the oven and pizza stone preheat and then bake it for 30 minutes. With this method, it’s easy to have fresh bread that tastes amazing.

Rye and whole wheat bread with flax seeds

To eat with this whole wheat rye bread, I’ve made Tomato-Lentil Soup with Brown Rice. The recipe is from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Dishes from the Healthiest Region Under the Sun. I’ve left out the scallions (the kids won’t eat them) and the celery so it’s a very simple recipe of carrots, garlic, lentils, brown rice, vegetable broth and canned tomatoes with dried thyme and a bay leaf.

I cooked the carrots and garlic in olive oil until softened. Then I added the remaining ingredients and simmered for 50 minutes. My son’s not always keen on things that include tomatoes in the broth but I think he’ll like this soup since it’s so simple. The carrots are from a local farm and are very sweet.

Lentil soup with bread

It’s a hearty, chunky soup – he probably won’t eat the tomatoes but I’ll give him a chance to enjoy it as is even if it means there will be some whining at dinner. The lentils offer a good source of protein and dietary fibre and the brown rice makes it even more satisfying.

Tomato-Lentil Soup

I love to include big chunks of the vegetables that they love so when they first sit down to a dinner, they see something inviting and dig in. This helps them overlook the less desirable ingredients they may be more skeptical about (the tomatoes).

My son prefers to eat only cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden – I get it. They’re delicious and winter tomatoes just aren’t the same. If only it were August year-round!

I’ll get them to taste the soup before I let them eat their bread. If I don’t watch them, they’ll eat three pieces of bread and be too full to eat their soup. Can’t blame them – the bread is super delicious! But I know once they taste the soup, it will go down nicely.

Hearty soup served with bread