Roasted Red Pepper Baked Pasta

Comfort Food!

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Pasta; Vegan, Vegetarian or Pescatarian! (even gluten-free!)

We are really into comfort food these days, something warm and bubbly from the oven that can be served in one dish with a salad.

I found this delicious pasta on one of my favourite food sites, the First Mess( I gave it a “STIR” twist and am so excited to share it with you!

You can add sautéed prawns, parmesan cheese or your own protein choice, it’s flexible once you have the sauce on hand.

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Pasta
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  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp.smoked paprika
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. light miso
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. tamari (gluten free is an option)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • 8 oz+ Pasta of choice (chick pea, lentil, gluten free options or regular whole wheat pasta) Penne is a good shape for this sauce
  • Topping
  • -1 ½ cup of crackers (your choice, we used a multi grain cracker)
  • 1Tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1Tsp. Olive oil
recipe by STIR Cooking School


Sauté shallots and garlic for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Add smoked paprika and cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer the mixture to a blender. Add cashews, roasted red pepper, sundried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, Dijon, tamari, water, salt and pepper.

Blend on high until smooth and creamy, approx. 3min.Add more water by the tbsp. if too thick. You should have about 2 cups when done.

Place crackers, rosemary and olive oil in a food processor and blend to form course crumbs.

Cook pasta in large pot of salted boiling water, drain when al dente.

Mix the sauce into the drained pasta, pour into a shallow casserole dish.

Top with the rosemary cracker topping and bake for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.

If you are adding sautéed prawns, place on top of the dish after baking, top with parmesan if desired.

Cookbook Musings – Oh She Glows

I first found Oh She Glows as a blog. The recipes were intriguing and healthy; I was drawn in by the bright, colourful images of food!  A cookbook of the same name emerged from the blog a few years later and I immediately purchased it.  It is one of my go-to cookbooks when I want nourishing, whole-food meals.  The author, Angela Liddon, came out with a follow-up cookbook, Oh She Glows Every Day which features the same beautiful diversity of recipes, but focuses on simple and fast food prep.  Both cookbooks are plant-based/vegan, but one does not need to be a vegan to appreciate and enjoy the recipes.  This is food for everyone.

I have to confess that I really am a bit obsessed with buying cookbooks.  I do look up recipes online, but perusing through photos and recipes in book form is a favourite pleasure of mine.  That being said, there is a place for online recipes.  Oh She Glows also has an app, so you can access recipes and food inspirations on your phone or tablet, etc.

This simple “cheese” sauce is truly satisfying and can be used in so many different ways!

All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce

Cookbook Musings – Flavor Bible

This week’s cookbook isn’t really a cookbook, however, it is an essential tool for those home cooks who like to experiment with creating their own recipes.  Are

you the type of cook who doesn’t use a recipe, or starts to follow along with a recipe then by the end you have completely gone off in your own direction?  If so, then this book is for you.  The Flavor Bible by Karen Page is the perfect tool for creating your own meals and recipes in the kitchen with some ingredient pairing guidance.  This is especially helpful when you are experimenting with new flavours from around that world.  What I love most about it is that it helps you understand flavour compatibility.  It breaks foods down into their basic ingredients then gives each their own flavour profile.  Then, the best part, it provides a list of all the other foods that pair well with it in a recipe or meal.  Flavour affinities are essential to creating a delicious, cohesive dish.  At ~ 450 pages, you are bound to find just about every ingredient you could possibly be searching for.  For example, Ginger is considered sour, sweet and hot.  Its volume is LOUD!  Techniques are many:  bake, candy, dry, fresh, pickle, etc.  Pairs well with:  bok Chou, cardamom, carrots, cashews, cauliflower, cilantro, cinnamon, eggplant, figs, grapefruit, etc.

There are two versions of the book – The Flavor Bible and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, so just choose the one that best suits your diet.


Cookbook Musings – Vegetarian India

This book is essential for your library if you are a fan of Indian food.   Madhur Jaffrey is a prolific author of several cookbooks, many of which have won James Beard Awards.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the plethora of images – 117 photographs of tantalizing food, interspersed with photos from India.  As a photographer, I appreciate good photography and I am drawn to cookbooks with beautiful food.  It’s rare that I will purchase a cookbook without photos – how would you be inspired to cook a recipe without the image?

The recipes are diverse ranging from appetizers, snacks, mains, desserts and drinks.  The recipes are well laid out so that you can easily see ingredients and follow the directions.

One of my favourite recipes is Masaledar Mumura – Spicy, Crisp Puffed Rice Nibbles.  This is a delicious Indian snack, often served in paper cones as a street food.  Another go-to recipe is for the Parathas Stuffed with Spiced Cauliflower – great for lunches or travelling.  I’m salivating as I’m typing; they are so yummy.

If you are already experienced in the kitchen with Indian food, grab this book, and if not, grab this book.  It is a good resource for every level of home chef.


See her in action here using an Instant Pot

Madhur Jaffrey – A Conversation in Food


Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Sauce

Ok this one a real winner…what to do with all the Rhubarb that’s not a crisp, crumble or muffin?! I made a sauce to go with more savoury items, then someone put it on their yogurt this am and it was still a hit!

Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Sauce
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  • 1 cup rhubarb, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fish or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (sub vegan type)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. honey (sub maple syrup)
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
recipe by STIR Cooking School


Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until well mixed.

Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-8 min. stirring occasionally.

Serve as a condiment with salmon, chicken, crispy tofu or chill and use as a sweet and spicy condiment on almost anything!

Cookbook Musings – Rebar

REBAR: a classic vegetarian Cookbook and go-to Victoria restaurant!

The Rebar cookbook is a staple recipe collection in our household.  So many of our friends already have it on their cookbook shelves.

I have never cooked a recipe from the Rebar cookbook that an Omnivore, Vegetarian Vegan or Flexitarian guest didn’t ask for the recipe…

We often make the Botanical burgers and serve them along with our spinach turkey burgers for a mixed group of guests. Another favourite on curry night is the curried chickpea soup with cilantro, peanuts and greek yogurt as toppings.

One of our weeknight go-to recipes is the Chiang Mai tofu grill. It is an over the top exotic treat, combining the flavours of a well-simmered kaffir peanut lime sauce served over a delicious stir fry. It is a really handy recipe on day 7 when you have leftover veggies to use up! Serve it over jasmine rice or soba noodles topped with mint leaves and fresh lime.

When in Victoria the Rebar restaurant in downtown Bastion square is a bright sub-terrarium favourite which I have been visiting for 20 years!

Some of the recipes in the cookbook can be found online or get your own copy at Munro books, Victoria.

Cookbook Musings – Thug Kitchen

Warning, if you are easily offended by profanity, then this book is not for you!

I heard about Thug Kitchen years ago from my cousin, Nic, who showed me the trailer for the soon-to-be released cookbook.  See trailer here.  It came across like a spoof or a Viagra/Cialis commercial.  It was hilarious.   I grabbed the cookbook as soon as it came out and was pleased by the plant-based content.  Everyone, including non-vegans can enjoy these recipes. There is a lot of swearing – that is their thing.  If you don’t appreciate the humour of this then there are many other plant-based cookbooks out there to enjoy.  The Thug Kitchen books aim to push your buttons with the language.

They have since come out with two other versions:  Thug Kitchen Party Grub and Thug Kitchen 101.

One of my favourite recipes from the Party Grub book is the Butternut Squash Queso; It is easy, delicious and makes a great healthy option for entertaining.


Here is their recipe – profanity all theirs.



Servings: Makes 2 ½ cups total, enough for 6 hungry motherfuckers

  • 1 ½ cups butternut squash puree*
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes with their juices**
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 jalapeños, minced2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Throw the butternut squash puree and onion in a blender and run until that fucker looks smooth. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika and set it aside.

Grab a medium-sized soup pot and warm the olive oil over a medium heat. Throw in the flour and spice mixture and keep stirring until it starts to thicken up and smell kinda toasty. Yeah, that’s right, we’re making a roux bitches. Grab a small whisk and slowly add the vegetable broth while you whisk. It will start to look like little lumps of playdough. You aren’t fucking up. Trust the system. Add the diced tomatoes and all their juices and keep stirring, it should be a lot smoother looking now with the only chunks being those tasty as hell tomatoes.

Now pour in the butternut squash mix, the nutritional yeast, garlic, jalapeños, lime juice, and salt. Stir well so there aren’t any chunks, and turn down the heat to low. Let everything simmer together for 3-5 minutes so that it the flavors get all mixed up and the sauce thickens. Serve that fucker up warm and right away.

* Yeah you can use a can but it’s easy as fuck to make. Skin and chop up a butternut squash into chunks about the size of a dime until you get about 3 cups. Throw it in a pot with a steamer basket and some water, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the squash is tender. Throw it in a blender or food processor and boom, fucking puree.

** Canned is cool here.

There are other great recipes on the blog, so have a look.

Have fun,


Pickled Red Onion

These colourful and flavourful onions are great on top of tacos, falafel wraps, in sandwiches, and more.  Pickling them reducing the strong raw onion taste.


Pickled Red Onion
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  • • 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • • 2 small jalapenos, chopped (reduce or increase # for desired heat)
  • • 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • • 1 tsp. sea salt
recipe by STIR Cooking School


Place jalapeno and onion in a medium heat proof bowl.

In a small sauce pan combine vinegar, lime juice, salt and bring to a boil

over high heat, stirring until salt dissolves. Pour over the onion and jalapeno.

Allow to stand at room temp for at least 1 hour before serving.

Keep left overs in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Cookbook Musings-Keep it “SIMPLE” by Ottolenghi

There comes a time when you really get into your cookbooks, like cooking more than 1 recipe from 1 cookbook?!

I have been really enjoying the Ottolenghi cookbook “Simple” for more than one dinner lately. The recipes are really simple, not too gourmet and basic well-stocked pantries will have most of the ingredients.

At the end of our 7 days of groceries last week, we had cauliflower and some frozen fish as the centerpieces of a dinner. I turned to Simple for inspiration.

I found the Chile fish with Tahini( pg 250) fit the bill.

Other than subbing canned tomatoes for the fresh called for in the recipe, the fish dish was simple and delicious and certainly jazzed up boring white pacific cod fillets.

We also made the Whole Roasted Cauliflower found on page 94. The basting is necessary to brown the cauliflower over its 1 ½ hour roasting time. The result is unbelievably tasty…dipped in green tahini sauce with lemon and salt it’s a total winner!

We added a green salad with a few leftover greens and lemon vinaigrette for a very satisfying middle eastern style dinner.

You an find the cookbook on the Indigo site or on Amazon books. Also, both these recipes are available on the internet if you search Ottolenghi and the recipe name.



Okonomiyaki-Cabbage Pancakes


Okonomiyaki-Cabbage Pancakes
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  • 2 lg eggs
  • ½ -3/4 cup water or dashi (Japanese broth mix)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1Tbsp.toasted sesame oil
  • ¾ - 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4-5 cups shredded green cabbage (*napa is fine too)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. oil for frying
  • * make sure you squeeze all the water out of Napa cabbage before mixing it into batter using a tea towel to wring out moisture
recipe by STIR Cooking School


In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, water or dashi, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth. Whisk in flour ¼ cup at a time until you have a thick smooth batter.

Add the cabbage, carrots, and green onion and mix well.

Heat oil in cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium.

Once hot, add ¾ cup of the batter per pancake. Press down to form a circle and place lid on to steam. Once golden brown(3-5min) flip the pancake and cook on the other side. Place on plate and cover until all pancakes are done.

These tasty hearty pancakes make a delicious snack or as a main course pancake bar and let everyone customize their pancake with protein and toppings

Makes 4-6 large pancakes

Protein Options
-any protein works for going in or on the pancake (shrimp, tuna, salmon, shredded chicken)
-the traditional recipe calls for pork hock which is cooked on one side of the pancake in strips.

Sriracha Mayo
Mix ¼ cup Japanese or regular mayo with 1-2 sriracha sauce

Okonomiyaki sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
4 tbsp tomato sauce or ketchup
3 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Mix together in a small bowl

You can pile toppings of your choice on the pancakes and pass the sauces:
i.e. Sesame seeds, green onions, stir fry veggies, seaweed strips, beansprouts, corn, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, kimchi, pickled ginger, crispy tofu, seafood or cooked fish or chicken of your choice.