Butternut, Lentil and Mascarpone Lasagne

Etienne requested Tiramisu for dessert on Father’s Day and I had a whole tub of mascarpone left that I wanted to use for our meat-free supper last night.  So, I did what I do best:  I googled.  We often make recipes off Taste and yesterday they once again had just the thing for me: a lasagne.

Then I did the other thing I do really well: I fiddled with the recipe.  You can leave the mascarpone out altogether or replace it with sour cream or even make a normal white sauce.

The kids also enjoyed it as I also know that we can offer our kids pretty much anything

  • covered in cheese and
  • that is dressed up as “Garfield Lasagna”

Butternut, Lentil and Mascarpone Lasagne


  • Coconut or olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium butternut, peeled and cut into blocks
  • 1 cup of red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of stock
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 250 g tub of mascarpone
  • lasagne sheets
  • grated mozzarella


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Fry onion and garlic for 5 minutes and add the lentils, butternut, stock, water and tomatoes.

Bring to the boil, turn heat down and simmer for 25 minutes.  If it looks a little dry, add some water.  It needs to stay a little juicy so the lasagne sheets have some fluid.

Pack a layer of lasagne sheets, spoon over half the mixture and dot with a third of the mascarpone, top with another layer of lasagne, mixture and mascarpone and top with another layer of sheets.  Then dot the last third of mascarpone on top of the final layer and cover with mozzarella.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is nice and brown.  Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.





Pic share and catch-up

We had a weekend of such absolute cuteness, I just have to share some stories and pictures.

Before I start, just a reminder that you will find this week’s Meat-free Monday post here.

Daniel has started whispering in our ears. Mostly sweet nothings, but often “I’ll be your Bestestbestest friend if..” I have been waiting to see if/when this was going to happen and am handling it better than I thought I would. So cute to see him whisper to his sisters.

We went to a kiddy birthday party on Saturday and my friend Chloe always has the BEST parties. She’s one of those Moms who always has the most amazing ideas of stuff to do with kids, always has home-baked cookies and has a legendary spread at each party.

As you can see our children played very nicely with all the other kids..


The girls watching the candles being blown out on the cake:


The cupcakes my friend made:


Watching tv:


Taking the dogs for a walk, love the light in this picture, I didn’t filter this at all:


Mignon playing with a branch against the tree:


Etienne had them today and will have them tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. To be honest, I expected grimness and chaos when I got home and instead he told me how much fun they had today. I’m a little (read: a lot) jealous. And lucky. And blessed.

Meat-free Monday: Corn Chowder

In my quest to find a Meat-free recipe for this evening I ended up on Jamie Oliver’s site for a change.  I must say, I always come away from there with something and we still make some of the recipes out of his very first books!

I briefly considered making a spinach souffle, but the feeling passed very quickly when I realised how little time I had tonight.  And I’m just plainly too scared to go there…

Here then Jamie’s Corn Chowder recipe and below my version:


• 1 celery stalk
• 1 medium onion
• 1 ½ tablespoons butter
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 3 cups 1% milk
• 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into little cubes
• 1/3 cup chopped cashews
• 2 cups frozen corn
• ¼ cup chopped fresh chives and/or parsley (optional)

1. Pull the leaves from the celery stalks and set them aside. Chop your celery and onion.2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery (not the leaves), onion, and thyme. Stir until the vegetables start to brown.3. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir for a few more minutes. Pour in the milk, add the potato and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time so the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy – this will take around 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, chop the celery leaves. When the potatoes are tender, stir in the corn, cashews and celery leaves and bring to the boil.  Stir in parsley and serve.

ps.  The cashews were good, but I think toasted pine nuts would have been better.  And maybe blending the mix before adding the corn. And maybe replacing half of the milk with coconut milk.

Ok.  I’ll stop now 🙂

MFM – Fried rice with a twist

Seeing as how Etienne was away on his boys trip thing from Wednesday to yesterday he asked if he could eat anything other than meat.  This coming from a man that calls chicken a vegetable.

I felt like making a fried rice thingy, so I found this recipe on the web.  I’m not overly fond of bean curd (cue small shudder), so I replaced the bean curd with cashew nuts.  To be honest, I replaced most of the recipe, so here’s my version.

  • 1.5 cup brown basmati rice, uncooked.
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • small punnet of baby corn
  • small punnet of snap peas
  • a huge red pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • handful of mushrooms, shredded by hand
  • 1/2 cup cashews

Cook the rice and cool.  Fry the eggs in a little butter in a wok, chop up into pieces and tip into a dish.  Next fry the onion for a minute then add the garlic and ginger and fry for a further couple of minutes.  Tip the corn, peas, pepper and mushrooms and fry until the veg is still crispy, but nicely warmed up.  Then add the rice, eggs and cashews, heat up and serve.

Splash some balsamic reduction over and tuck in!




MFM – Shaksuka

I’m always on the lookout for interesting recipes for Meat-free Mondays and when Carolyn Cramer (aka @thecaz) said she felt like some shaksuka yesterday morning I had to ask.  In a nutshell, it’s an Israeli dish with egg poached in a spiced tomato sauce.

Sound a little mad?  You bet.  I spent the whole day wondering whether I would (a) have the guts to make it (b) not fuck it up and (c) actually eat it.

So (a) and (b) went well and I actually ate it too.  The egg-white was still a little runny (grim) but it was delicious.  I had it with mash instead of pita as wheat is not my friend and it was really good winter food.  Next time I’ll try it on some rye.

For once I followed the entire recipe and only replaced the chilli with 2 green peppers.

Just.  Do. It.

(Original recipe here and check out her wonderful photography)

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil
2 green peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil over medium-high heat (I used a pot) . Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands (I just took the masher and got rid of some frustration). Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to pot along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. (I cracked the eggs into another bowl and then poured into the sauce.)  Cover and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping or on top of mash.

ps as a variation, Etienne fried some (cough) sausage for the kids and tipped half of the tomato mix into his pan and I only used 3 eggs.

I love how all my on-line and IRL friends egged (hahaha!) me on to check how it went, thanks so much!



MFM – Lentil and Split Pea soup thing

I’m really into soups at the moment and over the weekend Hanlie posted this lovely Lentil soup recipe on her blog which I was determined to make, but I cheated and googled “lentil soups” to see what variations I could make and found so many variations it continuously amazes me how many amazing food blogs there are. And even better, food blogs with amazing photography. Sigh.

Anyhoo. I made a hotchpotch of all the above recipes and I was very chuffed with the outcome. Here’s my version. I only had an hour to supper time when I got home so I had to hurry along to get it finished, but I’m really glad I made it.

1 cup split peas, rinsed

1 cup red lentils, rinsed

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

5.5 cups water

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

0.5 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried herbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable stock

Put the split peas in 3 cups of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Whilst this is going, fry the onion in a little oil until it starts to brown and add the garlic. After the 30 minutes add the onion mixture, the lentils, the tomatoes, the remaining 2.5 cups water, the stock and the spice to the peas.

Bring to the boil and simmer for another 20 minutes.

I added a big blob of sour cream. Yum.

Disclaimer: I am not a cook by any stretch of the imagination and I apologise up front for any errors in measurements and/or spice combinations.


MFM: Butternut and Cashew Curry

I decided to give this recipe a try tonight as I couldn’t face anything cold.  I really wanted something warm and filling.  As usual I did my own thing, but the original recipe is here.

I couldn’t find any proper red curry paste the recipe asks for so I used medium curry and left out the fish sauce.  It meant that the flavours of the cinnamon and cumin blended really nicely.  Yum.

  • 600 chopped butternut (medium-large butternut)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • oil for frying
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tin lite coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 pack baby spinach (I used a 90g pack and it was enough for me)
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted and salted cashews

Heat a little oil and fry the chopped butternut, cumin and salt for about 6 minutes or until brown in a large pan and tip into a plate.  Use the same pan, heat a little more oil and fry the onion for about 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and boil for another 2 minutes.  Add the curry powder or paste and boil for a further 2 minutes.

Then add the butternut, water, remainder of the coconut milk, cinnamon and cloves and boil for another 8 – 10 minutes until the butternut is cooked but firm.  Lastly add the baby spinach and cashews, stir in and boil for another minute until the spinach is wilted.

I had it with brown basmati and am taking it with to work tomorrow.  I suspect I’ll have to beat people off with a stick!

If you make it please let me know what you thought?

MFM – Magic soup from tins

One of my favourite people on twitter is Jane-Anne Hobbs.  She is a foodie with a difference:  she makes food I can actually copy and she explains it so well that I have never (touch wood) had a flop making any of her recipes.

She featured this recipe in her latest newsletter and I just HAD to try it.  And good thing I decided to make it tonight as I was late getting home from work and it took a whopping 5 minutes to chuck together!

1 tin peeled and chopped tomato

1 tin butter beans

1 tin chickpeas

1 tin lite coconut milk

I rinsed the beans and chickpeas and added fresh water to the original brine level, added it to the tomatoes in the pot and liquidised it with our hand blender, added the coconut milk and spiced it with some salt, pepper, cumin and turmeric.  Then I let it bubble for 15 minutes and ate 2 whole bowls of it.  Seriously nom and ridiculously quick to fling together.

Thanks Jane-Anne!

Meat-Free Monday – Chickpea and Quinoa

I used to make something pretty close to this from a Patrick Holford book.  I lost the book so I’ve been making it without the recipe.  With surprising success nogals.

What I love about this most is that it tastes even better the next day and I make enough salad so that there’s leftover for lunch the next day as well.

  • 1 tin Chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 tblsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • dash of olive oil and lemon juice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • chicken or vegetable stock
  • chopped fresh parsley to taste

Heat oven to 180 degrees and toss together the chickpeas, sesame seeds, cumin, lemon juice and olive oil.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until chickpeas are crispy. (if you love cumin add more, if you don’t try making it with paprika, also tastes amazing!)

Whilst the chickpeas are in the oven, brown the onion in a little oil and then add the quinoa, water and stock and boil for about 20 minutes until all the water has boiled away and the quinoa looks soft.

Add the chickpeas to the quinoa, mix and add the chopped parsley just before serving.


Meat-free Monday and bugs

The wonderful Ishay has this amazing recipe on her blog, you should really give it a try!

Click here for the original recipe, we left out the almonds (Daniel is intolerant) and replaced with chickpeas that we roasted in the oven for 20 minutes with some olive oil, lemon juice, sesame seeds and cumin.

Not that Daniel or the girls ate any of it, but hey.

Daniel started running a fever yesterday and we ended up leaving him with my Mom today who (kicking and screaming) took him off to the Homeopath.  To cut a long story short the little man has tonsillitis and he is really not well. I haven’t seen him this unwell in a long, long time.  He hasn’t been eating or drinking much the last 2 days and if he’s not better tomorrow I think we need to re-evaluate.

Of course his sisters were completely out of bounds tonight.  I saw, for the first time ever, complete disdain for Mom and Dad and rules.

And what was the first thought I had surface through the sheer terror?

I wonder what book I can read to fix this.

True story.