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Masters of Disguise

Vegetables are good for you.

Duh

Obviously, one of the best ways to get a nice big helping of veggies is to nice, big salad.  But not everyone loves salad- we get that.  So what are all the non-salad lovers to do?

Disguise their salad in the form of something else…

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Something like pasta!

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Zucchini-noodle pasta, to be precise.  With diced tomatoes and pesto sauce.  And delicious turkey meatballs, of course!

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This is basically summer on a plate, people!  Because if you’re like us, you have a garden bursting with zucchini and tomatoes.  If not, you probably have a neighbour who would be happy to give you some.  At the very least, you most likely have a farmer’s market or grocery store near by that would be practically paying you to take them if they sold them for any cheaper!

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It really is amazing how noodle-like zucchini becomes when you slice it extra-thinly.  Whoever came up with the idea originally (because we are definitely not reinventing the wheel, here!) is a genius, and our hat goes off to him (or her!).

This is also a great dish for people who are trying to cut back on their carb consumption.  Of course, it also tastes really great with a crusty, multigrain loaf of bread on the side, too- which is obviously what we did.  (What can we say?  We are girls who love our carbs!)

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It is also a snap to prepare.  You can make the pesto up to a day or two beforehand if you wish, and you can cook the meatballs while you slice the zucchini.  Once each element is ready, its just a matter of throwing everything together!  Simple as that.

So is it pasta, or is it salad?  You could call it whatever you want- we’re going to call it delicious 😉

Zucchini Pesto Noodles with Turkey Meatballs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For the Pesto:

1 c. basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. olive oil
1 tbsp parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)

For the Meatballs:

2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp onion flakes
black pepper

For the Pasta:

3 large zucchini
3 tomatoes

Directions:

For the Pesto:

Lightly toast the walnuts and set aside to cool.  Mince the garlic and add it to a blender or food processor along with the basil, lemon juice, salt and cheese (if using).  Add the walnuts and begin blending.  When the walnuts have been ground up, start slowly adding the oil, with the motor running, until you have a smooth consistency that is neither too thick nor overly runny.  You may have to stop the motor to scrape down the sides once or twice.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

For the Meatballs:

Using your hands, mash up the turkey so that you can form it into clumps that stick together.  Roughly chop the basil leaves and add them to the turkey mixture along with the other ingredients.  Taking about 1.5-2 tbsp of the mixture at a time, form the turkey into small balls.  Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the meatballs and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them so that they brown on all sides.  Place a lid over the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until they are cooked all the way through.

For the Pasta:

Using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, slice or peel the zucchini length-wise into wide, very thin strips, stopping when you get to the center where all the seeds are.  Dice the tomatoes into small pieces.  Pour the pesto into the zucchini noodles and toss to coat all the strips evenly.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

When everything is ready, divide the zucchini evenly among 6 plates.  Top with diced tomatoes and meatballs, and serve.

(You can have the meatballs heated up or served cold, it is up to your own personal preference)

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever tried zucchini noodles?  What creative ways do you like to make sure you’re eating enough vegetables?

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Cheesecake Imposter

We’re not vegans.

But we sure do love vegan food!

We have mad respect for anyone who is vegan, though, because there are some things that we just don’t think we could ever give up.  Like honey, cheese, chocolate, and yogurt and cottage cheese- we just love these foods too much!

But when vegan food looks like this, we can make allowances…

Vegan zucchini bread cheesecake.

Who knew you could make such delicious cheesecake without using any cheese at all?  Vegans did, that’s who.  And we are forever grateful to them for figuring that out.

Our first ever encounter with vegan cheesecake was at a restaurant in London called Veg Out. The moment we tried it, we were sold.  It was so creamy and delicious, you would never have guessed that it wasn’t “real” cheesecake!  From that day forward, we made it our goal to one day create our very own vegan cheesecake.

Well, today is that day, people!

Made with soaked cashews, silken tofu, and fresh-from-the-garden zucchini, this cheesecake is absolutely divine- and could fool anyone 😉

Did we mention that it also has no refined sugar?  Oh yeah.

This version is a little more light and fluffy than a traditional cheesecake, and has a similar texture to that of pumpkin pie.  However, if you want a thicker texture to achieve a more New York style dessert, we suggest increasing the amount of cashews you use, and decreasing the amount of tofu.  Either way we know you’ll love it!

Drizzled with almond butter glaze, this cheesecake had us licking our plates clean.

Delicious cheesecake that’s good for you.  We may never eat regular cheesecake ever again.

Vegan Zucchini Bread Cheesecake

Prep Time: 25 min

Bake time: 45-50 min

Makes: 1 pie (8 slices)

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. walnut pieces
1/2 c. almonds
1 c. dates, softened
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ginger and nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1/2 block silken tofu
1 c. raw cashews, soaked overnight
3/4 c. date paste
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ginger and nutmeg
2 c. zucchini, grated and squeezed of excess liquid
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vanilla protein powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum or corn other thickener*

For the Glaze:

2 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp date paste
3-4 tbsp water

Directions:

For the crust:

grind oats in a food processor until ground partially into flour, but leaving some texture.  Add almonds and walnuts and blend until finely ground.  Add dates, spices and vanilla, and blend until you have a crumbly mixture that sticks together when pressed.  Pour mixture into a greased 9 inch pie plate and press firmly onto the bottom and up the sides.  Set aside.

For the Filling:

Drain the cashews and place them in the food processor and blend until they are smooth and are forming a ball.  Add tofu and blend until smooth.  Add all other ingredients, except for 1 cup of the zucchini, and blend until fully combined.  Stir in the other cup of zucchini.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth out the top.  Bake at 350C for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling feels firm, and a tooth pick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.

For the Glaze:

In a small dish, combine date paste and almond butter.  Gradually add water, stirring to combine, until the mixture is runny but still somewhat thick.  Drizzle over top of the cheesecake once it has cooled.

*You can use other thickeners such as arrowroot flour/starch, corn starch, etc. If you choose to use more cashews than tofu, you may not need this at all!

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever tried vegan cheesecake?

Are you vegan? Why or why not?

Muffin Mayhem

Remember the other day when we said that we don’t like to just hide all of our zucchini away in baked goods?  Well, we’d like to retract that statement (sort of).  You see, we finally gave in.

Yes, we made zucchini muffins.

Now we don’t want you to get the wrong idea here.  We LOVE zucchini bread, muffins, and cake, its just that when we have fresh-from-the-garden zucchini, we don’t want to just use it all in baked goods.  We want to give it a chance to shine.  We want to be able to really taste how fresh and delicious it is.  But when you have 10 pounds of zucchini sitting on the counter, sometimes you just have no other choice.  We couldn’t very well serve zucchini noodles to our family every night of the week!

We think these muffins were a pretty good compromise, though 🙂

It was pretty obvious that our family loved them, too, because these babies were gone in a day and a half!  As a matter-of-fact, they were such a big hit that we made them again, but doubled the recipe!  Our family really likes muffins.

And these ones are literally packed with zucchini!  We figured it out that there is approximately 1/4 c. of zucchini in each muffin!

Muffins are really, really easy to make healthier, too.  In fact, the first thing we ever baked on our own were muffins, so I guess you can say they’re where we got our start 🙂  First of all, subbing part or all of the flour for whole wheat is an easy substitution to make, and instantly increases the nutritional value of your muffins.  The other big thing is sugar.  In our experience, most muffin recipes call for at least double the amount of sugar than they really need.  We also tend to replace a lot of oil and/or butter with apple juice or apple sauce, because we have found that muffins with too much oil just get very heavy and greasy.  Substituting with those ingredients also adds some sweetness to the muffin, so it allows you to cut back on the sugar even more.

The first time we made these muffins, we put in half a cup of sugar, but when we made them the second time, we only put in a third cup of sugar and you can’t even taste the difference!

We also used multigrain flour for added texture, which is why you’re seeing little white specks in the photos.

Just check out that texture!

After the first batch, our brother oh-so-casually mentioned how he thought putting apple in zucchini muffins would be delicious, so of course we took the hint, and added diced apple the second time around.  And he was totally right 🙂

These are classic zucchini muffins, made much healthier.  And you know, classics are classics for a reason, right?  So if you also have zucchini coming out the ying-yang, you should definitely give these muffins a try!  We promise you won’t be disappointed!

Multigrain Zucchini Muffins

Prep time: 10-15min

Bake time: 20-25min

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

2 c. multigrain (or whole wheat) flour

1 c. unbleached white flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

3 c. grated zucchini

2/3 c. liquid – 1/2 c. apple juice, then fill to the 2/3c. line with oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/3-1/2 c. white sugar*

1 tbsp date paste

1/2 c. each walnuts and raisins

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix thoroughly. Add wet to dry, and add raisins and walnuts. Stir to just combine.

Spoon batter evenly into 12 greased muffin tins, and bake for 20-25min until done.

*Depending on if you like a sweeter muffin, we’ve done both and they were both fabulous!

-twosaucysisters

What’s your favourite kind of muffin?

What was the first thing you ever cooked or baked on your own? 

The Lunch that Almost Wasn’t

Yesterday was just one of those days.

You know the kind where you just can’t seem to think of anything that gets your appetite going, and yet everything you eat turns out to be incredible!

It started with yesterday’s breakfast.  Seriously people, there is no better way to start your day than with a beautiful stack of decadent pancakes…. with ice cream 😉

It ended with a good ol’ basket of fish n’ chips (healthy of course!) with an out-of-this-world peach dipping sauce.  We promsie we won’t keep that recipe from you for long!

But yesterday, it was lunch that was the real test.

We couldn’t think of anything to make, and yet we came up with one of the most delicious vegetarian burgers we have ever made!

Here’s how it all went down:

1. open the fridge and find chickpeas and black beans.  Can’t decide which ones to use.

2. Decide to use both.

3. find ourselves unable to ignore the giant pile of zucchini on the counter.

4. Grate some zucchini.

5. …burgers, anyone?

So there’s not really a connection between grated zucchini and burgers, but that’s where our thought process went anyways, and are we sure glad it did!  The rest of the procedure was just an exercise in gluing.  Vegetarian burgers are actually quite easy to make, but the tricky part is making sure that they stick together in the pan.  No one wants a crumbly burger!

And of course, every veggie burger needs a delicious sauce.  In this case, hummus   came through for us once more! A smooth and creamy Berbere-Hummus sauce adorned this delicious creation.

We got the idea for the Berbere-spiced hummus sauce from here. We made that recipe a few days ago, and LOVED it! We had a bunch of leftover spice mix, and thought it would be awesome as a sauce for these burgers. We were right.

So here’s what we did for the sauce: mixed a 1/4 c. of our favourite hummus with 1 tbsp of this Berbere seasoning, and added 2 tbsp of water to thin it out and give it a more sauce-like consistency.

From the burger to the sauce, this recipe is so simple, so quick, and so delicious.

Zucchini-Bean Burgers

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1/2 small zucchini, grated

1/2 c. each chickpeas and black beans

2 tbsp finely diced onion

1 tsp oat flour

1 tsp water

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp tahini

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp hot pepper relish

pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a medium-sized bowl, mash the beans together, leaving a few larger pieces for texture. Add all other ingredients and mix together until the mixture comes together when packed.

Separate mixture into 2 equal-sized portions and form into patties.  Wet your hands to avoid having it all stick to your fingers!

Heat a pan with a little olive oil.  Carefully place burgers onto the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until browned.  Carefully flip over and cook for another 5 minutes.

~twosaucysisters

ps- congratulations to the Canadian Women’s soccer team, who won the bronze medal today!  This was the first time since 1963 that Canada has won a medal in a traditional team sport 😉

Do you like vegetarian burgers?  What do you do when you can’t decide what to eat?

Untidy Samuels

Do you have any random memories that have absolutely no significant impact on your life but for some reason the image has been burned into your memory and it remains there as clear as if it just happened yesterday?

We have lots of those.

We both seem to have impeccable memories for random things that happened in our childhood.  Remembering what time we work at tomorrow?  No, we should probably check the schedule.  Remembering to call and book a hair cut? We think the fact that we both haven’t had a hair cut in 6 months speaks for itself (don’t judge…).  But remembering that random and insignificant line from that movie that we don’t even know the name of from when we were 7 years old?  Of course!

We won’t get into the details of the film (although you know we could…), but the scene that sticks in our memories went like this:

A little British boy and girl are playing in the nursery in the mansion in which they reside, when their also English-speaking butler comes into the room and announces that dinner is ready.

“Sloppy Sams?!?” they both exclaim (hmmm… the British version of sloppy Joes?)

In his most proper manner, the butler replies, “We will refer to them as ‘Untidy Samuels'”.

As a couple of 7-year-olds, we thought this was the most hilarious thing we had ever heard.  Laughter ensued for serveral minutes, and “Untidy Samuels” were requested for dinner that night.

Sloppy Joes were always a favourite meal of ours growing up.  It was one of those meals that our mom could make for the entire family and be completely confident that she would get no complaints from anyone.  And this holds true to this day.  We love anything that’s sloppy and oh-so-saucy ;), and the rest of our family have not outgrown their love for the messy, meaty dish.

So in the spirit of random childhood memories, guess what we made for dinner last night?

Untidy Samuels!

With a hearty dose of veggies and the addition of cooked brown lentils, these are the more grown-up version of our childhood favourite.  And over a bed of steamed zucchini noodles, we both agree that these are classy enough to be termed “Untidy Samuels”.

And because everything tastes better in a bowl…

Using lean (or extra-lean!) ground beef, and adding a hearty dose of veggies into the mix boost the nutrition of this meal, but what takes it to the next level are the lentils.  1 cup of lentils have only 1 gram of fat and 4 mg of sodium, and boast 16 grams of fibre and 18 grams of protein.  They also contribute a great source of iron, folate, and thiamin, as well as a host of other nutrients. (source)

And if you’re like us and have giant zucchinis comin’ out the ying-yang, then you should definitely consider serving this meal over steamed zucchini noodles, because it’s a great way to use up a lot of the tasty summer staple.

Which, conveniently, is the theme of this month’s What I Ate WednesdaySummer Staples!

Up until now, we have not participated in What I Ate Wednesdays, but we have been considering it for quite some time.  And what a better time to start?  Like so many of you, we also have zucchinis bursting out of our garden and taking over the produce drawer.  We really can’t think of more of a summer staple than the tasty summer squash!

Often when people have an excess of zucchini the first instinct is to hide it in bread or cake, but we ask why?  Why hide it?  Not that we have anything against zucchini bread (we love it, actually) but we think that zucchini deserves the chance to shine.

So tonight go make you and your family some sloppy… er, unitdy Joesephs!

Beef and Lentil Sloppy Joes

Total time: 25min

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 c. brown lentils + 1 c. water

3/4 c. peas

3/4 c. corn

2 mushrooms, sliced

1/2 c. bell peppers, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 c. tomato paste

1/4 c. molasses

1/4 c. apple cidar vinegar

1/4 c. worchestershire sauce

1 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tsp EACH turmeric and paprika

1 tsp steak spice

pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp of chives

1 large and 1 medium zucchini, sliced into match-stick thin “noodles”

Directions:

Add lentils and water to a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20min

Add ground beef to a skillet and cook until browned, drain.

Put zucchini noodles in steaming basket and steam until tender, about 15min.

Add all other veggies and saute for 2-3min.

Add all other ingredients, excluding the chives. Cook over medium heat for 7-8 min, or until heated through.

Add chives and serve over zucchini noodles.

– twosaucysisters

P.s. A huge congrats goes out to the Men’s 8 for winning the silver medal, our Canadian women’s gymnastics team for a phenomenal showing in yesterday’s team competition, the women’s 4X200m freestyle for advancing to the finals, and to our 3m springboard divers for doing well despite their obstacles in this past 3 months! So proud to be Canadian! 🙂

Did you love sloppy Joe’s as a kid? What meals instantly bring you back to your childhood?