Cooped Up Cooking: Episode 06

Zucchini Lasagne

Zucchini Lasagne by Chef Amy

The recipe that was recommended to me by my sister-in-law was an original from a Chrissy Tegan cookbook. I found the recipe itself to be a lot of ingredients and think that you could really simplify it at home. I want to show you the original and then show what I did and offer some substitutions. If you have a can of already prepared tomato sauce you could use that and add a few extra veggies to bulk it up, you can use whatever kind of fat or oil you have in the house and you can always substitute fresh herbs for dry herbs (always make sure you use less dried than fresh!). Again you could use this as a more of a concept than a strict guide. If you have a sauce recipe you already like then use that one, you could use different types of filling or add some lentils to a tomato sauce for extra protein and texture.

Original Recipe

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion – finely chopped
1 large carrot – finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 spring of rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound ground beef
1 slice bacon
1 cup red wine
1 cup milk
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
2 cups (loosely packed) basil leaves – shredded

My Recipe

1tbsp Bacon Fat 
1 onion diced
2 celery stalks diced
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1lb ground beef
1/4lb ground pork
1 tsp chili flakes
salt and pepper
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 can diced tomato
1 cup basil (optional) 
½ cup cream (optional)

In a big pot, heat the oil and butter (on medium-low heat). Add the onion, carrot, celery, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Stir until soft (about 12-13 minutes). Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the pork, beef, bacon, and one teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium high and cook (breaking up meat with a wooden spoon) for about 6 minutes. Add the wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes. Add the milk, and then the broth, tomatoes, basil, and remaining teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces (this should take an hour to an hour and a half). Add more broth if it gets dry (I didn’t have to.)

“Noodles” Directions

Take 3/4 large zucchini (find the longest ones you can) and slice them into long 1/4 inch-thick strips. Arrange them on 2 rimmed baking sheets and sprinkle each side with salt. This will let the water come out of the zucchini (leave for about half an hour and you’ll see what I mean.) Pour off the water and pat both sides of the zucchini dry.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Brush the zucchini with the oil and roast until it loses half its thickness and some slices are slightly brown. (about 30 minutes). Remove and cool.

Filling Ingredients

1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese (try cottage cheese instead!)
1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (could use cheddar)
1 3/4 cups finely shredded parmesan cheese (skip this if you dont have it!)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (loosely packed) basil leaves, shredded (optional, could use dried)

Make the Filling

In a large bowl, combine 1 15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, an egg, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the shredded basil.

Make the Lasagne

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Spread one cup of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 inch lasagne pan. Arrange a layer of roasted zucchini on top of the sauce. Top with another cup of sauce, and dot with a cup of the cheese filling. Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded basil, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and 1/4 cup of mozzarella over that. Repeat the process two more times and then top the lasagne with the extra cheese and bake for 40-45 minutes.


Cooped Up Cooking: Episode 05

Oatmeal Cake

Easy Peasy Oatmeal Cake by Chef Amy

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Combine and let stand for 20min
1 cup quick-cooking oats (whole oats)
1 ¼ cup boiling water

Cream together until light and fluffy
½ cup butter (or margarine/shortening)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Add oatmeal mixture. Beat well.

Sift together in another bowl:

1 ½ cup flour (white/brown)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Add these ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix gently.

Pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan and bake for 35 minutes or until you insert a knife into the center and it comes out clean! (Find pan sizes chart here:

*Feel free to get creative and add nuts into the cake if you like or raisins etc. We used to traditionally serve this with an apple sauce so I’ve included my favorite apple sauce recipe below.*

Red Apple Sauce

1 kg / 2 lb red apples (use local produce if available)
250 ml / 1 cup water
1/2 tsp ground vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or cardamom)
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (optional)

1. Rinse the apples and chop them in bite-size pieces, discarding the core. Place in a large saucepan along with water, fresh ginger, vanilla powder, and cinnamon. Let simmer on low heat for approximately 20 minutes or until soft.

2. When the apples are done, use a hand (immersion) blender to mix into a smooth apple sauce. Stir lemon juice into the sauce, leave to cool, or scoop into a large jar and place in the fridge.


Cooped Up Cooking: Episode 04

Lentil Soup & Fritters

Lentil Soup & Fritters by Chef Amy

Simple Curried Lentil Soup

1tbsp onion flakes (or fresh)
1tbsp garlic flakes (or fresh)
2 cups lentils
1 litre stock/broth
1 tablespoon masala curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

1. Add stock lentils, onion, garlic, curry powder together in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 17-20min with the lid off.
2. Once the lentils are cooked turn to low heat and add the coconut milk, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as you like. Simple yummy filling lentils!

Veggie Fritters

1 head broccoli
1 carrot
1 small potato
3 eggs
¼ cup flour
2tbsp hemp protein (optional)
1 tbsp ground flax (optional)
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp curry powder (or any seasoning you like)

1. Grate carrot and potato on a grater or mandolin. Chop broccoli small with a knife.
2. Separate the eggs and whip the whites until they are fluffy, add both to the grated veggies and mix.
3. Add the flour and any seasoning that you like, try Mexican style, Greek etc, mix gently
4. Heat pan to medium-high heat and scoop a tablespoon at a time into the hot pan. Cook for about 2-3min each side or until golden brown and crispy.
5. Serve with whatever sauce you fancy! I did a spiced yogurt.


Cooped Up Cooking: Episode 03

Brunch & Bread

Brunch & Bread Bonanza by Chef Amy

This week we are making one of my favourite quick and easy no-knead breads, beer bread! The reason I love this bread so much is it requires no prep time, no sourdough starter required, no rise time required, It’s a one-bowl, one loaf-pan bread, simple and easy cleanup! The version that I make is a very hearty dark brown bread and I usually load it up with lots of seeds. This time I made a version with everything bagel seasoning. I like my original recipe better so I am going to post that one. The other beauty of this bread is that you can basically use any type of flour; white, whole-wheat, spelt, etc. You can use almost any type of beer, I just recommend avoiding IPA’s or bitter beers and avoid bitter non-alcoholic beers. The other beauty is you can make this a sweeter loaf like cinnamon/raisin or a savoury herby loaf with rosemary, garlic and cheese. Let’s get creative!

(I know that some of you won’t have a beer at home and so for you folks, I’m going to post a link to an Irish soda bread recipe that uses buttermilk and baking soda as the raising agents and stay tuned for some GF bread options in the future)

Easy Beer Bread

2 cups beer (500ml)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of sesame seeds (toasted/optional)
2 tablespoons of flax seeds (ground/optional)
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds(optional)
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of wholegrain flour
2 tbsp distilled water

1. Mix all ingredients together, mix well with a wooden spoon. (Save some seeds to put on top.)
2. Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan well and dust with flour to stop the bread from sticking, add bread mix, and top with leftover seeds.
3. Bake for 45-55min at 375F, check by inserting a knife into the center of the bread and if it comes out clean then the bread is done. 

No beer at home? Try this Irish Soda Bread instead:

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

(great addition to stews & soups)

2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2¼ cups buttermilk (add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk let stand 10 minutes)

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk.
3. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
4. Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants. Bake the bread for 20 minutes.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
Easy cleanup: Recipes that require cooking spray can leave behind a sticky residue that can be hard to clean. To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you apply the cooking spray.

Basic Frittata Formula

12 eggs, whisked just until the egg yolks and whites are blended
3 tablespoons full-fat dairy
3 cups cooked and seasoned vegetables or other add-ins
1 cup grated or crumbled cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt

Common veggie combinations:

• Spinach, artichoke and feta cheese
• Broccoli, cheddar and green onion
• Cremini mushrooms, arugula and goat cheese
• Cherry tomatoes, zucchini, mozzarella and basil
• Yellow onion, carrot, bell pepper, goat cheese and chives

Refer to this blog post for all the tips and tricks to doing this at home in different methods.


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for the traditional stovetop method, or 350 degrees for the baked methods (casserole or mini/muffins).
2. Crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add your dairy of choice. Whisk just until the egg yolks and whites are blended. Whisk in all or half of the cheese (you can reserve the other half for topping the frittata before baking). Set the mixture aside.
3. Warm the olive oil/veg oil/bacon fat in a 12″ cast iron skillet or oven-safe non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add the vegetables, starting with chopped onions or other dense vegetables. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add any softer vegetables such as zucchini. Cook until those vegetables are tender, then add any garlic or greens, and cook until fragrant or wilted. Season with salt, to taste.
4. Traditional stovetop option: Whisk the eggs once more and pour the mixture over the vegetables. Stir with a spatula briefly to combine and distribute the mixture evenly across the pan. If you reserved any cheese, sprinkle it on top of the frittata now.
5. Once the outside edge of the frittata turns lighter in color (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), carefully transfer the frittata to the oven. Bake for 7 to 14 minutes (keep an eye on it), until the eggs are puffed and appear cooked, and the center of the frittata jiggles just a bit when you give it a gentle shimmy. Remove the frittata from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool. Garnish with herbs, slice with a sharp knife, and serve.


Cooped Up Cooking: Episode 02

Baked Eggs

Shakshuka or Baked Eggs by Chef Amy

When working from the pantry at home it’s great to understand substitutions. If you don’t have a red onion just use a yellow one. If you don’t have fresh garlic just throw in ½ tsp of garlic powder. No red peppers? That’s fine let’s chop up some carrots small and sauté them slightly longer. No paprika? Sniff around your spice cupboard and try something else, create a new flavour combination! Chickpeas, black beans, mixed beans even lentils can often be interchanged in recipes. Not a fan of eggs… why not try making some tofu scramble??

I think it’s so important to experiment and become flexible in the kitchen. It’s also way more fun and a great creative outlet for those of us that aren’t so fabulous with a paintbrush (not that I don’t still give that a go - doing anything creative right now is nourishing my soul!) My hope is that you will gain more confidence in the kitchen that will allow you to loosen up and start playing with things and seeing a recipe as a rough guide and not something that has to be exact...let’s leave that for baking (where measuring is very important)! Here’s my version of baked eggs or shakshuka from what I had at home! If anyone has any questions about substitutions leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out!

1 small onion (diced) 
2-4 cloves garlic (minced)
½ carrot (diced)
1-2tsp paprika
1-2tsp cumin
1/2tsp chili flakes (optional)
1/2tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1 jar of tomato sauce/can puréed tomatoes/passata
½ can chickpeas
4 eggs

Yogurt sauce
¼ cup yogurt
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Optional garnish: avocado, parsley, lemon, crusty bread, pita, cilantro, feta

1. Preheat oven to 375F, wash veggies, chop veggies, measure spices, open tomato sauce, and chickpeas. I recommend setting up and measuring all your ingredients first, it makes execution much faster.

2. Sauté the onions and carrot for 2-3min in a cast iron pan then add garlic and spices and toast for 2min.

3. Deglaze with tomato sauce, add chickpeas and warm the sauce. Once bubbling slightly make a well in the pan and drop the first egg in, repeat with the next 3 eggs. (If you do not have an oven-safe skillet warm the sauce slightly longer and then pour into an oven-safe baking dish, create wells in the dish and drop eggs in.)

4. Bake for around 12 min on middle/top rack of the oven. You want the egg whites cooked but the yolk still slightly runny.

5. Mix yogurt, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper together.

6. Once out of the oven garnish with whatever toppings you like and serve with crusty bread.


Cooped Up Cooking: Episode 01

Sweet Potato Boats

The Sweetest Sweet Potato by Chef Amy

Today calls for my favourite pantry root veg the sweet potato!  Today’s recipe is something I want you to see as more of a concept than a solid recipe. Sweet Potato Boats could be done with a number of different spice combos/sauces/toppings. Think Mexican w/ Black Beans/Guac/Salsas, Thai w/crunchy slaw/tofu/ginger soy dressing; Breakfast style w/ Eggs/Tomato/Spinach/Avocado; Dessert style w/ banana/peanut butter. Just always think in terms of some sort of Protein + Sauce/Dip + Veg, remember to eat the rainbow! Then you could always add any nuts and seeds you like, or serve it over a bed of spinach and add a little olive oil and lemon juice. The options are really endless so get creative, have fun and use up what you need to in the fridge and pantry!
I’m using a recipe from the minimalist baker, which you can find at the link just below. Tonight I'll see what I have in my fridge to complete this recipe, make substitutions where I have too (I don't have hummus!! So let’s see what I come up with!) and then show you guys next time!

Original Inspiration Recipe:

Ingredients (All washed before filming)

● 4 medium sweet potatoes*
● 1 19-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
● 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
● 1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked (or regular) paprika
● 1 pinch sea salt or lemon juice (optional)

● 1/4 cup hummus (tahini, yogurt or any saucy thing in your fridge)
● 1 tablespoon lemon juice (lime, white wine vinegar)
● 3/4 - 1 tsp dried dill (or sub 2-3 tsp fresh per 3/4-1 tsp dried)(optional)
● 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 cloves yield ~1 1/2 Tbsp or 9 g)
● Water or unsweetened almond milk (to thin)
● Sea salt to taste (optional)

● 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes (diced)
● 1/4 cup chopped parsley (minced)
● 2 Tbsp lemon juice
● Chili garlic sauce


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. Rinse and scrub potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. This will speed cooking time. Otherwise leave whole and bake longer (approximately double the time (45 min - 1 hour).
3. Toss rinsed and drained chickpeas with olive oil and spices and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. (make sure to dry the chickpeas well with paper towel or a clean kitchen towel)
4. Rub the sweet potatoes with a bit of olive oil and place face down on the same baking sheet (or another baking sheet depending on size).
5. While the sweet potatoes and chickpeas are roasting, prepare your sauce by adding all ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisking to combine, only adding enough water to almond milk to thin so it’s pourable. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more garlic for more zing, salt for savoriness, lemon juice for freshness, and dill for a more intense herb flavor. I found mine didn’t need anything else.
6. NOTE: If you don’t have hummus, tahini will make a great base substitution for the sauce - just adjust the seasonings to accommodate the lack of flavor tahini provides.
7. Also prepare the parsley-tomato topping by tossing tomato and parsley with lemon juice and setting aside to marinate.
8. Once sweet potatoes are fork tender and the chickpeas are golden brown - roughly 25 minutes - remove from oven.
9. For serving, flip potatoes flesh-side up and smash down the insides a little bit. Then top with chickpeas, sauce and parsley-tomato garnish. Serve immediately.
10. Additional side ideas might include Hummus, Pita Chips, Baba Ganoush, or Persian Eggplant Dip. Enjoy!

*Adjust number of sweet potatoes per person, and buy local when possible for best quality and flavor. And slice into quarters instead of halves to speed cooking time if on the larger side.

Mexican Style Sweet Potato Boats
Recipe: From Amy’s Pantry Items
(As shown in the video)

1 Large Sweet Potato
2-3Tbsp Olive oil
1/2tsp salt pinch of pepper
1tsp Paprika
1tsp Cumin
(or whatever spices you love)

1 cup shredded, cabbage (any kind)
⅔ cup shredded, carrot
¼ cup red onion, sliced thin

1 cup yogurt/sour cream/ mayo
Zest of half lime
1 tbsp lime juice
1 chipotle pepper* (optional)

½ can of black beans
½ cup grated cheddar

-Wash all veg, cut sweet potato in half season and rub with olive oil. Place face down on baking sheet and bake for 25-45min depending on size of sweet potato. Mine took 35min.
-While sweet potato bakes chop veg for coleslaw throw in a bowl and start preparing the dressing. -Add all dressing ingredients to a blender and blend on medium-high for a 1-2min or until chipotle is combined.
-Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork to check for doneness. If it goes through easily all the way pull them out. Mash them up with the fork and then add black beans and cheese, place in oven to melt cheese, about 5-8min.
-Once out of the oven top with coleslaw and dressing. I added cucumber to mine, you could add tomato, avocado, literally anything you like, and enjoy!

*If you don’t use a chipotle spice up your dressing with chili powder/cayenne/paprika/cumin
Any of the above would work but remember chili powder and cayenne will be spicy!


Getting down to the roots

I love this time of the year as it offers so many opportunities to enjoy root vegetables. I harvested my last batch of parsnips on Saturday and made a spicy parsnip soup.  I also went to the farmers' market and bought gorgeous looking beets.  They became the centrepiece for a roasted beets, arugula and goat cheese salad.

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