Cooking Club: Week 61


I hope it feels fall-ish near you because it is so hot here this week that the chili on this weeks menu feels wildly out of place. The veg pasta bake was a member request! So, whoever you are, of course I deleted the email but ask and ye shall receive. The super easy quesadillas we’re doing are from the ebook we are releasing this coming Tuesday - LITTLE SPROUTS! It is a download of 30 recipes, a few from SKCC, that have worked for our family, as I try to sneak more wholesome ingredients into my babes. We’ll be sending out a coupon, so keep an eye out for that on Monday.

I need to test one more recipe… ok, two more and then I will tell you what we are drafting up for the Thanksgiving menu. I know many of you grab assignments before the big day, so I’ll let you know what we’re working with next week.

K, have a good one!

1-hr. Prep

  1. Cook and store the pasta for #1

  2. Start and finish the chili #2

  3. Roast the butternut for #3

  4. Start the dry ingredients for #4


I am assuming you have sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a higher heat oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil. Check your stock on these before you head to the market, and check off any other items you may already have. As you continue to use these recipes, you will see repetition of my favorite ingredients. For example, while real maple and pine nuts are pricey pantry staples, they won’t sit in the pantry, you’ll use them in upcoming weeks. Use bulk bins at your local health food store to buy in smaller quantities if you prefer.

Your List i

sun-dried tomato + spinach pasta bake turkey chili (member favorite) butternut + black bean quesadilla cocoa-banana waffles



Meat + Dairy

recipe 01: sun-dried tomato + spinach pasta bake

Serves 6

You want a deeper dish for a pasta-bake like this, so you get pockets of cheese along with some crispy edges. This will all fit into a 9” square or 2 qt. baking dish. It makes a decent amount of food, so expect some leftovers or invite friends over. 

Dairy Free friends …oof. There will be a few swaps. Simply eliminate the cream or cream fraiche from the marinara layer. Miyokos and Kite Hill brands make dairy-free alternatives to ricotta and mozzarella which you can use here. Dairy free cheeses do not exactly “brown”, so don’t wait for that to happen.

If you want to make this to bring to new parents or freeze for yourself, make it up until the final assembly step, and let the cook finish the baking steps. 


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: You can cook the pasta in advance and toss it in a coat of oil to keep until assembly. Otherwise, the entire bake can be assembled the morning of, and baked off at dinner time.

Use it twice: Once it’s baked, you’ll just want to reheat leftovers in the oven.

Kid Friendly: Depending on the age of your kids, considering chopping the artichoke hearts small. Mine sort of pushed them aside but no big deal.

Carnivore addition: Add 1/2 lb. of browned, Italian sausage in after the spinach, or some mini meatballs.


1 6 oz. bag of baby spinach 
12 oz. / 1/2 lb. pasta (rigatoni, penne or shells)
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cups of your favorite marinara (Rao’s or San Marzano are thick and great here)
1/3 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche


1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta (about 12 oz.)
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
Handful of fresh oregano or parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp. dried dill
Dash of cayenne
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian blend
½ cup grated parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Fresh ground pepper

Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish


Steam your baby spinach for just one minute, set aside to cool. Press out the excess moisture and give it a rough chop. 

Start a large pot of heavily salted water to boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 375’. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, marinara and cream/creme fraiche. Cook the pasta according to instructions for an al dente noodle, about 8-9 minutes. Drain completely, then add the noodles to the creamy marinara bowl and stir to mix.

In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, fresh herbs, lemon zest, dill, cayenne, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir to mix. 

Grease your baking dish, pour in half of the marinara pasta. Distribute the chopped artichoke hearts and spinach over that, and then dollop the ricotta mixture over that. Spread the remaining pasta over that, then top with the mozzarella. Drizzle olive oil over the top, a generous sprinkle of parmesan and fresh black pepper. Cover it loosely with foil. 

Bake the dish covered, for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat up to 475’, uncover, and bake another 10 minutes until the top is showing some brown spots. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before digging in. 

Finish it with fresh herbs and serve. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    30 g
  • carbs i
    38 g
  • protein
    28 g

recipe 02: turkey chili (member favorite)

serves 6

I’m making a big pot of this for friends coming over for Halloween next week, even though it is supposed to be nearly 80’ that day around here. We will proceed with fall vibes even though it looks like summer. 


The garnishes are on the grocery list. If you're the line-by-line sort of person, be sure to add or eliminate any specific garnishes you'd like on your chili.

Yes, there is some chopping. I will repeat this every time - jalapeños vary widely on spice. Some are as mild as a bell pepper, some are spicy even with the seeds out. I do not know your jalapeños, so proceed with your own experience given wherever you purchase peppers. 

The size of the squash cubes are noted, we want them smallish, not big hunks in the chili. Watch your fingers!


Tips of The Week

make ahead: chop your vegetables a day or two in advance. The entire chili can be made up to three days in advance, and reheated. It’s honestly better the following day.

use it twice: this chili saves well. It can be frozen, and reheated if needed. It is also great served over a small baked potato.

kid friendly: be sure you use a mild chili powder - the heat can vary. More store-bought versions are mild, unless otherwise noted. I make sure all the seeds are out of the jalapeño when the kids are eating this with us, but I leave a few in for adults because the heat is nice.

vegitarian option: I have had good luck subbing half cup of lentils and half cup of bulgur wheat in place of the turkey. Add these in after you sautè the vegetables. You will need a splash more broth, as these ingredients absorb moisture as they cook.


1 Tbsp. avocado, olive oil or ghee
1 lb. ground turkey (ideally dark meat)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups 1/2” cubes butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 14-oz. cans diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup broth, chicken or vegetable
1 14-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt and pepper

For serving 

cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream, chips etc.


Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Warm the oil. Add the ground turkey and a big pinch of salt. Break it up with the back of a spoon and brown the meat.

Add the onions, bell pepper, jalapeños, garlic, squash, and another pinch of salt and saute a minute or two. Add the tomato paste, sugar, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, tomatoes, broth and beans. Stir everything to mix. Turn the heat to low, put the cover on ajar, and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the squash is tender. Add a last pinch of salt and pepper, to taste (stewy things need to be well salted! Don’t be shy). Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly before serving. Once completely cooled, store, covered, in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer until ready to use. 

Garnish your bowls with avocado, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, chips or whatever you wish. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat
    7 g
  • carbs
    28 g
  • protein
    22 g

recipe 03: butternut + black bean quesadillas

serves 4

Our kids e-book, Little Sprouts, is out this week and these quesadillas are perhaps our most made recipe for a quick weeknight dinner. I roast the squash while we do showers and clean up their rooms, and then the quesadillas come out in minutes from there. If you are not squash people, sweet potato works well in its place. 

If you’re looking for more greens and a little fresh crunch, stuff some spinach or kale in after everything warms through. 

This taco seasoning will last up to a year. Consequently, we love the Thrive market one as well because it isn’t too spicy for the kids. 


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The squash can be roasted in advance making this a 5-minute meal.

Use it Twice: Any leftover squash is great on a taco-style salad.

Kid Friendly: Fam favorite. I chop the cilantro smaller for them and smoosh down the squash sort it sort of melts in with the cheese.

Carnivore Addition: Add shredded chicken or carnitas into the quesadillas.

Dairy Free: Use a dairy-free cheese in place of the melty, white cheese.


4 cups cubed (about 1”) butternut squash (from roughly one small squash)
1 Tbsp. avo or olive oil
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
Salt, as needed

4 whole grain tortillas
1 13 oz. can re-fried black beans
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups melty cheese - a Mexican blend or white cheddar

Coconut or avocado oil, for cooking

Batch Taco Seasoning:

  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • Dash of cayenne, to taste


For the batched taco seasoning, mix everything together in a bowl. Store it in an airtight container for up to a year. 

Preheat the oven to 425’. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. 

Pile the squash cubes onto the baking sheet and drizzle them with the oil, taco seasoning and another sprinkle of salt. Toss everything to coat and spread them in an even layer. Roast for 25 minutes until edges are browned and squash is tender. Remove to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, spread the beans over the top of the tortilla. Add a few spoonfuls of the cooked squash and use the back of a fork to smoosh them down a bit. Sprinkle the top with a handful of cheese and a generous amount of cilantro. 

You can pan-fry them, or to do a batch at once, place the open-faced quesadillas on a baking sheet and heat them in the oven for 10 minutes to warm through, then just fold them over.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    24 g
  • carbs i
    37 g
  • protein
    22 g

recipe 04: cocoa-banana waffles

Makes 6ish waffles

These waffles are (tweaked to taste) from the talented Amy Chaplin’s new cookbook, Whole Food Cooking Everyday. They work for all our vegan, gluten and dairy free friends, and are the kids new favorite because they look like brownies (sorry Amy, I had to add a little sugar). 

Currently, I’m working with this simple waffle iron that while not the best quality, does the trick given my small amount of storage space. I dream of this one

If this yields more waffles than you need, they will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or can be frozen and re-toasted as needed.

If you don’t stock these flours, and do not have a gluten issue, an unbleached all-purpose works great and will better yet, make a sturdier waffle. These gluten free flours make for a very tender waffle and will need a longer cook time. If you do not stock flaxmeal, you can use a whisked egg in its place to help bind. 


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: Mix all of the dry ingredients together and keep an airtight container.


1 1/4 cups almond or oat milk
2 Tbsp. flaxmeal
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup cane or coconut sugar
1/4 cup warmed coconut oil (or avo or olive oil)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Yogurt, fruit and maple, for serving


Whisk the non-dairy milk and ground flax in a medium bowl and set it aside for at least 10 minutes to thicken. 

Preheat the waffle iron. 

Meanwhile, put the almond flour in a medium bowl and break up any lumps. Sift the oat, rice flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, pinch of salt. Add the bowl with the almond flour, and whisk to combine. Set aside. 

To the flax mixture, add the mashed banana, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract and cider vinegar. Add the flour to the wet mixture and stir to combine. 

Lightly brush or spray the waffle iron with oil, Add about 1/2 cup of batter, depending on your iron, and cook according to instructions. Vegan waffles usually need a few minutes longer than suggested. 

Remove and serve immediately with toppings. 

To store leftovers, keep them in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days or freezer for three months. 

Nutrition Information

per waffle

  • calories
  • fat i
    17 g
  • carbs i
    34 g
  • protein
    6 g