Smoky Butternut Squash Pasta with Kale


I'm definitely not used to the gloomy weather we've been having. With the days getting shorter and the clouds all gray, I've been craving comfort food. I saw this recipe and thought that it would be a tasty fall pasta dish. However, what I got was my new replacement for macaroni and cheese. The Mr. loves homemade macaroni and cheese but with my milk allergy, I've been trying to limit the dairy I consume. So, eating a bowl of cheese isn't the smartest thing for me to do. However, I can eat this without the guilt or allergy side effects. and still feel like I'm splurging on a not-so-healthy dish. I cannot believe how amazing it is. The Mr. and I polished the entire thing in one sitting. Don't judge.


When I went shopping for the ingredients I was unsuccessful in finding raw cashews at my usual grocery store. Then later that week I popped into another local store to get a specific brand of salsa for the Mr. and they had raw cashews. I had forgotten how much I needed and walked out with about a cup and half of raw cashews not realizing I only needed a quarter of a cup. Whoops. However, I looked it up online and you can store raw cashews in an airtight bag/container for up to one year in a cool and dark place. So if you have to purchase them in a large quantity, have no fear, they will last a while. I also cheated on the recipe a little bit. I really didn't want to have to clean and roast a squash. So I went over to the freezer isle of my grocery store and bought a 12 oz bag of frozen butternut squash*. When I was ready to make the sauce I put the whole bag in a microwave safe bowl and heated it up, then followed the remaining directions for the recipe. I also used gluten-free pasta. I saw it at the store and decided to give it a try. It tastes just like normal pasta and held up really well. So if you are looking for a gluten-free dish, use gluten-free pasta. Oh and one other thing, you don't have to use yeast in the recipe but it really adds to the dish. The yeast not only adds flavor but it also thickens the sauce into more of a creamy consistency.


Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked 
  • 1 (3.5-4 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (need 2 c. cooked squash for the recipe. *See notes above for a quicker option) 
  • 3/4 c. water 
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional, but highly recommended) 
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder 
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke 
  • hot sauce, to taste 
  • 1 lb mini shell or macaroni pasta (use gluten-free, if desired) 
  • 5 c. chopped kale

  1. Add cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight or for at least 3-4 hours, until soft and plump. Drain and rinse before use. 
  2. *If roasting your own squash* Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. See note about prepping squash below. Spread out chopped squash on sheet and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until squash is fork tender. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the soaked and drained cashews, water, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon juice, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, and 2 cups of cooked squash into a high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth. Now add the salt, liquid smoke, and hot sauce to taste and blend again. 
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  5. Meanwhile, saute kale in a pan until wilted.
  6. Add the drained pasta back into the pot. Pour in the sauce and kale; stir to combine. Cook over medium until heated throughout and serve immediately.

Review: Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters

I was given a copy of Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters to review a while back. I was excited by the idea of a dairy-free ice cream sandwich since I'm mildly allergic to milk. I will admit that I'm not a huge ice cream fan. The Mr. can eat a tub of it in two sittings but my carton will sit in the freezer until it develops ice crystals. However, when you slap it between cookies, I'm in it to win it. So I was excited to give this book a shot.

First I made the Strawberry Italiano sandwiches which were a strawberry balsamic swirl ice cream sandwiched between to shortbread cookies. I didn't think the swirl would turn out because anytime I have to "swirl" something in, I always tend to over swirl it and end up just mixing it in. However, I'm happy to say that my swirl was perfect. Ha! The shortbread cookies don't have a lot of flavor so the ice cream is definitely the star in this one. I wasn't sure how the balsamic was going to play out in this, but you don't taste it at all.



The second ice cream sandwich I made was the Pumpkin Snickerdoodle sandwiches which are pumpkin ice cream sandwiched between two snickerdoodle cookies. Oh yeah, these are my favorite ice cream sandwiches ever. When you pair the pumpkin ice cream with the sugary cinnamon cookies, you get one amazing treat. I'm not gonna lie, it took all my willpower not to dip a cookie into the churning ice cream while it was freezing. Then, when the moment came where I could actually eat one... I ate two. And I've had one just about every night since. These are amazing and perfect for the fall.


This is a great recipe book to have on hand if you have an ice cream machine. Whether you are vegan or not, it doesn't matter, it's awesome. There are your basic ice cream sandwich combinations but then there are crazy ones like cardamom cookies and pistachio ice cream, orange zest cookies with earl grey tea ice cream, rhubarb cookies with sweet corn ice cream, and that's just to name a few. You have savory ice cream sandwiches, sweet ones, even ones designed for the season/holiday. I'd buy the book just for the pumpkin snickerdoodle sandwich recipe alone. Heck, I plan on making another batch of these babies this coming weekend because they are THAT GOOD. The next recipe I plan on making after I've had my fill of the pumpkin snickerdoodle ones is going to be the cranberry ice cream with gingersnap cookies. But if I'm being honest here, I have a feeling I will be making every single one of the recipes. Even the crazy ones.

*Oh and the best part about these recipes are that you can eat the cookie dough batter while you're waiting for the first batch of cookies to bake. I mean, it's not like I ate half a batch of the snickerdoodle dough or anything. I just... heard that you could is all.

Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

With weather cooling down here, I've been doing a lot more cooking in my oven. I don't know what it is about cooler temperatures that makes me want comfort food but it never fails. I've tried a few different shepherd's pie recipes over the years and I'm always looking to try different versions. There are just so many spins you can make on this classic dish that the possibilities are endless. So far I've made your classic shepherd's pie with ground beef but I've also flipped the switch on it for holidays and meatless versions.




This is a really easy recipe to make. Especially if you have a big skillet that can go in the oven. You can just cook everything in the pan (except mashed potatoes, those you still have to do separately), and then top it with the mashed potatoes and throw it in the oven. There's no need to transfer it to a casserole dish. That is, unless you are the complete opposite of me and just LOVE to do dishes. The less dishes I have to do, the happier I am.


So in short, if you are looking for a hearty shepherd's pie sans the meat and dairy, this is a great recipe. It's got just enough going on that it will appease any meat eater while still catering to anyone who can't eat meat or dairy. The Mr. and I are hot sauce fiends so we felt like it needed some hot sauce mixed into the lentil base but the great thing about shepherd's pie is that you can alter it however you'd like. I'm lazy and don't see the purpose in peeling my potatoes so I left the skins on. But if you want to try sweet potatoes instead of red? Go for it! After all, that's how I came up with the corned beef version. I just took our typical St. Patty's day dinner and turned it into a pie. So taste the lentil mixture before putting the potatoes on top and tweak it to your hearts content.






recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Cooking


  • 8 large or 10 medium potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk such as rice/soy/almond milk (just not almond coconut)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz mushrooms (crimini or button mushrooms)
  • 2 (15 oz) can lentils, lightly drained but not rinsed (or about 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
  • 2 Tbsp dry red wine, optional
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauc
  • 2 tsp seasoning blend (such as Mrs. Dash table blend)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 8 to 10 oz. baby spinach or arugula leaves
  • 1 c. fresh bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if needed)

  1. Dice the potatoes (you can peel them first if you prefer mashed potatoes without the skin). Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir the margarine into the potatoes until melted, then add the non-dairy milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed. Preheat the oven to 400° f.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
  4. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the wine (if using), soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  5. Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  6. Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide each mixture evenly between them.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty (I always pop mine under the broiler for a few minutes to give it a nice golden crust). 
  8. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.

Snickers Cake


The Mr. hates frosting cakes. So it's safe to say that in previous years, when I've chosen a cheesecake as my birthday cake, he was pretty happy with that decision. This year I decided to change it up from the usual cheesecake and go with something a little different. This past year I lost my beloved cat of 18 years to cancer. She had been by my side for just about half of my life. I had gotten her one day after school when I was a little girl. I was sitting out side my aunt's house when a lady walked by and pulled a kitten out of her hoodie pouch and asked me if I wanted it. No little girl is going to say no to a kitten... and I was no exception. So that day I walked into my house holding my new kitty and begged my parents to let me keep her. The name I came up with for my new best friend was Snicker. Because I thought she had the markings of a Snickers bar... and because that's my favorite candy.


So this year, when the Mr. asked me what kind of cake I wanted I immediately decided on a Snickers cake. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I wanted something that reminded me of my kitty cat. This was the easiest sounding cake I came across. Not to mention is looks amazing! The pictures are not deceiving because I devoured this cake in a week. Baking the cake in the caramel sauce turns the cake into this moist caramel-y cake with peanuts. The whipped cream "frosting" is like the nugget center. This was the perfect cake to not only celebrate my birthday but to honor my furbaby as well.



Recipe adapted from My Honey's Place 


  • 1 box Devil Food cake mix (and ingredients called for in box directions)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 c chopped peanuts
  • 2¼ c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 full size snickers bars

  1. Spray 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
  2. Split caramel mixture into pans evenly.
  3. Sprinkle chopped nuts over caramel, ½ cup in each.
  4. Gently add cake mix to pans equally (I use a spoon to add dollops around to avoid spreading caramel to sides)
  5. Bake per box directions.
  6. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Run knife around the edge to loosen cake.
  7. Cut off any bump that may have formed  over the pan while baking for a level surface. (the Mr. didn't do this and the cake turned out just fine)
  8. Place a plate on top of pan and flip allow pan to sit upside down on plate to cool. 
  9. While cake is cooling beat remaining heavy whipping cream until peaks form add powdered sugar then continue to whip until stiff peaks form add half whipping cream on caramel side (top) of bottom layer and spread. 
  10. Add top cake layer and then add remaining whipped cream to top and spread crush Snickers bars (I freeze to make this easier). Sprinkle on top of cake. 
  11. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.



This recipe is linked to
WFMW

Lentil Loaf



Every year for my birthday the Mr. makes me dinner and a cake. I usually always choose meatloaf for dinner. That has been my choice since I was a little girl. It could be that from a very young age I remember eating meatloaf with my grandpa when he watched me or as I would like to think, when we hung out together. So I was unwilling to give up my old time tradition of meatloaf on my birthday just because I have given up meat. Not too long ago I received a cookbook for vegan recipes and tried the lentil loaf from it. You may have remembered that review and the fact that the lentil loaf was my favorite recipe that I made from the book.  So when the Mr. asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner I told him I wanted the lentil loaf.


This is a pretty easy recipe to make. It's pretty much like making your usual meatloaf only you have to cook the lentils first and roast some walnuts. What I do recommend though is making the loaf in advance and letting it sit in loaf form in the refrigerator if you plan on making it during the week. That way, when you get home from work all you have to do is pop the loaf in the oven to cook. Regardless of whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or a meat eater, this an amazing "meat" loaf recipe. One that will surely please the masses.



recipe adapted from...


  • 1 c. green lentils
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 c. walnuts, toasted and ground
  • 3 Tbsp. ground  flax seed, mixed with 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1/4 c. oatmeal, uncooked
  • 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium pot bring 3 cups of water to a boil on medium high with the lentils and 1/2 tsp. salt. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer the lentils for 45 minutes. Make sure to stir and watch this pot; you do not want to run out of water. Make sure to add more water as necessary when the water level goes down. You want these lentils to be mushy.
  3. In a large pan on medium-high, heat up 2 tablespoons of the oil. Saute the onion and bell pepper, stirring occasionally for approximately 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute while stirring. 
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add in the sauteed vegetables and lentils. Season with salt and pepper to personal preference. 
  5. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Very firmly press the loaf mix into the pan. Smooth out the top if need be. 
  6. Cover with tinfoil.
  7. Bake on middle rack for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.