Toad's Kitchen

(mostly) healthy recipes for the family

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage, Cambazola and Pine Nuts

Again, I was drifting through my Nigella Lawson books and came across this recipe in her Nigellisima book. It is actually a variation of one of the variations given in her original recipe (I used Cambazola instead of the gorgonzola she suggested, as it was what I had), peeled the squash and I cut the sage into ribbons rather than using whole leaves as she did….still, so simple, and absolutely delicious.

1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only, cut into strips

3 tablespoons pine nuts

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup Cambazola cheese, cut into small pieces

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped parsley to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut squash into chunks about 1″-1-1/2″ square. Toss pieces of squash in the olive oil with about 2/3 of the sage, salt and pepper, and place into a casserole dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is golden brown and tender.

Squeeze lemon half over top, and sprinkle cheese, remaining chopped sage and pine nuts over top. Mix gently so the squash pieces stay intact but the cheese melts and distributes through the squash evenly, with the other ingredients. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 3-4 servings.


Gnocchi Primavera

Spring is a wonderful time – all the current crop is starting to appear and we no longer are quite so reliant on stuff grown on the other side of the planet! Asparagus is one of my favourite spring things…I find it delicious in any form! Baked, steamed, sauteed, you name it.

This recipe comes from there being a surfeit of asparagus in my fridge…I was thinking about making it with a pasta of some kind and looking around to see what all was hanging around in the fridge, and this is the happy result. I found some mascarpone and got this idea.

You could use veggies of choice for this, cutting them as you would for a stir fry. You could also, if preferred, use pasta or even egg noodles.

Have your prep done ahead of cooking the gnocchi, the sauce only takes a couple of minutes to make. Hope you like it 🙂

1 package gnocchi

2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

6 green onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

10 spears asparagus, ends snapped off, cut into 1″ lengths

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/3 cup dry vermouth (e.g.. Noilly Prat)

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt and freshly ground pepper

chopped parsley to sprinkle (optional)

In dry frying pan, toast pine nuts for a couple of minutes until golden, watching the entire time of cooking as they burn easily. Place pine nuts in bowl to cool. Set aside.

Put pot of water on to boil for gnocchi. Once water is boiling, add gnocchi and cook until they float (just a few minutes, don’t overcook).

In small bowl, stir mascarpone cheese and vermouth together. Set aside.

As gnocchi is cooking, in large frying pan or wok, melt butter over medium heat, and add asparagus pieces and bell pepper. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, until asparagus starts to turn bright green.  Add green onion and garlic, and cook for a minute or two to soften but not brown.

Add mascarpone/vermouth mixture to vegetables. Mix thoroughly. If too thick, take a tablespoon or two of the gnocchi water and add it to “loosen” the sauce.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle Parmesan over top and stir in gently.

If gnocchi are not quite cooked, remove sauce from heat. If they are cooked, drain them and add them to the sauce, mixing gently.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 2-4  servings, depending on how hungry you are 🙂

“Fried Rice”…made with quinoa!

One of my favourite sites,, is a never-ending source of delicious and fun recipes. The blogger, Jenna, is a chef with a wonderful and carefree style that I love to read. Her recipes are awesome! This recipe was posted recently and I just HAD to make it…of course, I did make a couple of very minor changes to her original recipe due to what I had in my fridge and personal preferences…I know, I know, there wasn’t any garlic in the original recipe so I put some in. The original recipe also called for snow peas, which would be lovely but were not hanging around in my fridge, so I subbed celery which was tasty. I also added the mushrooms, but everything else is as the original recipe.

Other veggies could be substituted. If chicken or shrimp were added, I am sure they would taste great, but frankly this is so good as it is with just veg and eggs, it does not really need anything else. It is also a good, protein-y dinner.

This is so quick and easy and as Jenna said, “seriously a power meal!”

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal

2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced small

4 large mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil, divided

1 tablespoon fish sauce (don’t leave this out – it lends a beautiful flavour)

1 tablespoon soy sauce


Combine quinoa and water in medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook 12-15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed all water. Once cooked, remove from heat, and fluff with fork.

Place half of the coconut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once oil is hot, pour eggs into pan and let cook until almost set (don’t scramble, just leave them). Remove onto plate while still surface of eggs is slightly runny. Put remaining coconut oil in pan, and add chopped veggies. Stir fry for about three minutes or until veggies are barely tender. Add quinoa to pan and mix together with veggies. Add eggs back in, breaking into pieces. Finally, stir in the sesame oil, fish sauce and soy sauce and mix well.

All done! Serves four (or fewer greedy) people 🙂


Chef Feenie’s Fish Tacos, slightly amended and simplified

I had never made fish tacos before, a realization that struck me as odd because I really like them. For this Easter weekend, Dane and Brittany were here with us and it was a request! Feeling somewhat panicky, I looked in to my cookbooks and my copy of Chef Rob Feenie’s “Casual Classics” popped out at me, seeing as fish tacos are served at Cactus Club Cafe restaurants where he oversees the menu.

Lo and behold, there was a recipe in it – “Cod Tacos, with My Salsa, Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Sambal Mayonnaise”. I wish I could say it was “my” recipe because the tacos were delicious! The man is a genius. The time spent in prep is well worth the fabulous flavours which combine in these little gems.

I have modified his recipe very slightly to suit what I was able to do at the time (with the fish), but I think he would like the results – the salsa, cabbage, and mayonnaise are all his. Chef Feenie sears the fish in the olive oil with salt and pepper, as opposed to cooking it in the oven with Tex-Mex. He also suggests grilling the tortillas, which I did not do (I don’t think anybody noticed, to be honest, they were too busy savouring!).

6 ounces cod (you could use halibut or other white fish), cut into 1″ cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

Tex-Mex seasoning

2 cups thinly shredded green Savoy cabbage

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (about 12)

1 tablspoon diced red onion

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon finely chopped hot pepper (I used fresno, he called for jalapeno)

1 ripe avocado, pitted and roughly chopped

1/3 cup corn kernels, slightly cooked and drained

salt and pepper

2 teaspoons sambal oelek


1 lime, cut into wedges

12 small flour tortillas (5-6″)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Toss fish cubes in olive oil and seasoning to coat. Set aside.

Toss cabbage with cider vinegar and sugar in bowl, set aside.

In another bowl, combine tomatoes with onion, cilantro, lime juice, hot pepper, avocado and corn. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and black pepper and toss gently to avoid mashing the avocado. Set aside.

Mix sambal oelek with mayonnaise, set aside.

Now you are ready to cook the fish – pop it in the oven for five minutes or so, or until the fish is opaque and cooked through. Remove from oven, transfer to a warm serving plate and tent it loosely with foil to keep it warm.

Arrange your sauces, cabbage, fish and tortillas so they are easily accessible for assembly. Call your hungry people!  On each tortilla, spread a bit of the sambal mayonnaise, top with fish, salsa and cabbage and roll the tortilla up, securing with a pick if desired. Enjoy.

Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Kale and Pine Nuts

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of dining at Rebar in Victoria, BC. It is a cute little vegetarian restaurant with inspired dishes and an amazing cookbook (which was conveniently for sale at the restaurant)! I ate a dish similar to this dish, which was one of the evening’s specials and is not actually in the cookbook. When researching online to find something similar to use as a starting point, I did find this one from the Food Network, but tweaked it a bit because I can’t help it. The result was delish and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, cut in slices

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)

1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi

juice of half a lemon

1 cup grated cheese (I used “pizza cheese”, the bagged blend of shredded mozzarella, parmesan, provolone and gouda)

2 tbsp. pine nuts

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion until it is soft and golden. Remove from pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Add the vegetable broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes or so, stirring halfway through to ensure all gnocchi are cooked through. Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese, lemon juice, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pine nuts; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.

That’s it! So yummy!

Caramel Pecan Croissant Pudding…a decadent way to use up those leftover croissants

I love croissants, as do most people I know, but we all know they are less than stellar when not fresh and crispy. That being said, you can refresh them in the oven for a few minutes to make them like new, but when you buy a massive box of croissants at Costco, you may be doing that for a few days…but don’t lose faith! Here is something you can do with leftover croissants that is spectacularly yummy and delicious.

This is an adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s recipe in her book “Nigella Express” – I have changed the quantities and ingredients slightly and added some notes. This is an easy recipe with few ingredients, but it does require your undivided attention for a few minutes when making the caramel syrup.

4 stale croissants

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup cream (heavy or coffee, whichever you have available)

1 cup milk (not low-fat or skim)

1/4 cup whisky or 1 tbsp vanilla

4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a gratin dish which will hold a litre or so.

Rip croissants up and put into dish. Distribute pecans over top.

Put sugar and water into deep, heavy saucepan and swirl to dissolve sugar a bit. Heat over medium-high heat *without stirring*, but watching closely. Let it boil until it turns a deep amber colour. This process can take up to ten minutes. You need to watch the mixture closely, because once it starts to turn colour the change will happen quite quickly. If you burn the mixture you will have to discard it and start again…ain’t nobody got time for that!

Once the sugar has caramelized, remove from heat, and whisk in cream, then milk, then vanilla or whisky. When you add these the caramel will splutter and may bubble up. Just keep whisking! The sugar may “lump together” but return to *low* heat and keep whisking, and it will dissolve in the cream and milk. Once mixture has dissolved any lumpy caramel, temper the eggs with a bit of the hot liquid, then slowly whisk eggs into mixture in pot.

Pour custard mixture over croissants and stir to combine. If croissants are stale, let mixture sit for a few minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes or so and – as Nigella says – “prepare to swoon”. Couldn’t say it better myself 🙂




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