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Monday 27 April 2009

Let there be Rock!

I was looking through my camera last night and saw that I had a crapload of food pix on there and now I see why - it's been almost two weeks since my last blog post. So strap yourself in - i've got a lot of pics for ya!!

Starting off with last night's dinner. I really could not get inspired last night and couldn't decide what I wanted and somehow it struck me that soup & a sarnie would be a good dinner. And it was. The soup was just a roasted yellow pepper, an onion, some potatoes and veggie stock cooked up and blended with a little soya cream. It was really good!

The sarnie was some tofu that I marinated with some miso, maple syrup and some other stuff that I forget and then baked. With cucumber, tomato, alfalfa sprouts and vegan mayo. YUM!

The inside of the sammie....

This one was brunch yesterday. I had a 'great' idea to try and make individual frittatas. Yeah it didn't really work. It was more like baked tofu scramble. It tasted good though but I need to work on the recipe!

Mum & Dad came round for lunch on Saturday and Dad had made tomato & basil soup and brought it with them. It was tomato with some other stuff chucked in and it was awesome.

I made us some lower fat carrot cake muffins, with an orange glaze one. I ALMOST forgot to take a pic, I was just about to scarf the last one when I remember. Hence the messy pic!

Last week we resurrected our tradition of my girlies coming round in the week for dinner. I made balls! (Hee hee!). That's VCON's beanballs to the less childish of us. The recipe said it made 12-15 balls (hee hee!) but I got 23 out of it! Obviously I don't know what a walnut should look like!

On top of spaghetti ... all covered in..... tomato sauce! YUM. I had read reviews saying the balls (hee hee!) were mushy. I agree, they were a little, but not enough to bother me as they tasted really good.

I also made us some garlic bread to go with.

We're all trying to be good and avoid cake so I made a Lychee & Lime Sorbet. It was ok but I went a bit overboard with the ginger! I will work on it.

This was a stir-fry I did last week. I was knackered and had to get food shopping on the way home so I just picked up a pack of stir-fry veg, a sachet of sauce, a pack of marinated tofu pieces and a pack of crispy seaweed, then just served it with some udon noodles. It was ok, the sauce was a bit bland so I had to jazz it up with some spices.

The next two were variations on a theme. I saw a recipe for a great looking salad in a book I bought a while back called the Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook. It's a pretty good book - it has lots of recipes that if they are not vegan, are mostly easy to veganise. It also has suggestions for both veggie & vegan meal plans. But anyway, back to the salad. I didn't have everything they called for so I decided to wing it.

Udon noodles, marinated tofu pieces, avocado, salad leaves, toasted cashews and I made a dressing with the juice of a lime, a tbsp of mirin, a tsp of rice vinegar and a tbsp of soy sauce. I finished it off with lots of chopped fresh mint and coriander. It was really light and zingly. YUM.

The next day, I still had half an avocado so I went with some more cold udon noodles, julienned carrot, avocado, tofu, spring onions and a similar dressing as before but with a bit of chilli and some peanut butter mixed in. Really good!!

A meal last week - I made a pilaff using barley instead of rice and lots of cumin and paprika. And I served it with the Cumin Lime Tofu from Eat Drink & Be Vegan. I love that stuff - soooo good!

Lastly, a couple of experimental low fat baked goods - both of which need work! Firstly some cookies - they had cashews and sultanas in and oats. They were nice but not quite right.

Secondly, some muffins. These also had sultanas in and some spices and other stuff that I forget. Again, they need work.

OK and non-food related. My mum bought me a Hetty!! Which is the female Henry Vacuum cleaner. Not only are these little things cute, they are more environmentally friendly as they use less energy and they are powerful little suckers too. Plus they take up less closet space so there is more room for shoes! Win-win!

It even came with a pink canvas bag to encourage you to use less plastic bags when you do your shopping.

And lastly, it was pointed out to me last time that I hadn't yet posted a pic of my tattoo. Sorry, it totally slipped my mind. I have struggled to get a decent pic and this is where it's still a bit scabby but you get the gist.... My two best friends have the same* tattoo as well.

(* Well it was supposed to be the same but the guy who did it messed them all up so they are all slighly different.)

Cooking to: Mostly this week - AC/DC (went to see them thursday and they were freakin amazing!!)

Thursday 16 April 2009

Playing House .... erm I mean Flat!

Helloo there. ARRGGHHH I hate you blogger I HATE YOU!! I spent forever typing this post and blogger went out and it only saved half it!

But I'm over it now. And I promised pix of the flat so here they are.....

Bedroom - I didn't take one from the door, but it's quite a long room.

Make up and drawers! That mirror will be on the wall soon.
Patio doors in the bedroom onto the balcony.

Bathroom - it's nice to have a bathroom cabinet. My last flat didn't even have a mirror in the stupid ugly bathroom!!


I took a dark one as well because the bath panel lights up (there's one above the sink too) - very nice for a relaxing bath!!

Night time view of the church from my balcony - spookeh!!

The balcony - well some of it anyway, this is what i could fit in the shot. It also goes around the side of the building, on the south side and that is where my veggie patch is going!!

Living room

Kitchen - I'm not a huge lover of that one blue wall! But I've got used to it.

Now onto the important stuff - the foodz.

Last night's dinner I was planning on making burgers with the cooked quinoa I had but didn't really have anything to go in with the quinoa. So I made the crash hot potatoes that Jessy keeps raving about. She's right - they're awesome. Mine are a bit more crash squished taters, but I'm ok with that. I also had some spicy italian sausage, some roasty veg and I made the Merciful Miso Gravy from La Dolce Vegan, cuz I was feeling saucy. Glad I did too cuz DAYUM! That stuff is rad. I used wholemeal flour instead of plain flour - I wasn't sure how that'd work but it worked perfectly and was yummy.

Brekkie at the weekend was french toast. Normally I have mine with ketchup - I'm English afterall! But I didn't have any so I tried the sweet variety. Hell yeah it was good! I added some orange zest, vanilla and cinnamon to the mixture and served with maple syrup. YUM.

Sunday Dinner - I fancied a good old roast dinner so I had mashed taters, roasted brussels & butternut squash, sage & onion stuffing and baked tofu. MMMMM!

I forget exactly what I put in this but it was veggies, tofu, tinned tomatoes, spices and a baked sweet potato. It was pretty good.

This was my favourite of the bunch, so there's a recipe! I veganised one of sainsbury's food for a fiver leaflets but as well as veganising, I added in some more veg, used fresh tomatoes, wholewheat pasta and decided not to deep fry the courgettes. Seriously, what did them poor courgettes ever do to sainsburys??? I used Julie Hasson's Spicy Sausages but the sauce is so good you could really leave this out, or just add in some more veggies!

I struggled with a name for this so ended up calling it....
Alien on Pasta (hee hee)
Ingredients (serves 2)
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 2 cups / 300g)
¼ cup / 4 tbsp tomato puree
½ cup / 125ml water
2 tbsp pesto*
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp olive oil
1 yellow (or red) pepper, sliced into fine strips
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), finely sliced
1 medium courgette/zucchini shaved with a veggie peeler
2 fat cloves of garlic
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt & pepper to taste
100g (about 4oz / 2 cups) of dried wholewheat pasta
2 vegan sausages (optional)

Chunk up the tomatoes (seeds, skin and all - just cut out the white core) and throw them in the blender with the tomato puree, water, pesto and paprika in the blender. Whizz till smooth (I did this with a hand-blender and the beaker that came with it).

Throw the pasta in a big pan of boiling water and cook according to pack instructions.

Heat the oil over a medium heat and gently cook the onions and peppers (a pinch of salt helps) for 5 minutes or so until they start to soften. Add the courgette and cook a few more minutes, then add the garlic and cook for just about a minute, until it starts to get fragrant.

Pour on the sauce and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes (until your pasta's ready really). If you're using the sausages, just put them in the oven at 180/350 for about 5-10 minutes until they are warmed through and just starting to brown. Don't overdo it or they'll be dry.

Add the nutritional yeast and salt & pepper to taste. Serve over the pasta with the sausages on top if using.

*I had some pesto in the fridge that I'd made the day before, but you could use a good vegan jarred version or just throw in some basil leaves!

Lastly, I found this pic on my camera. It was a fairly unspectacular shepherds pie filling of TVP, tinned tomatoes, spices and veggies but the topping was magical! Mashed potato & sweet potato with some vegan margarine, soymilk and salt & pepper. Simple but oh so seriously tasty. I'll work on the filling!!

That's all for now. Ooh except my Mum said she was going to sign up for email updates so HI MUM!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and no the comments are not just for vegans - feel free to leave one!

Thursday 9 April 2009

Falafel, that's fun to say. Falafel. FAAAA LAAAFEELLL!!

Well howdy there.

This week I have been making up meal plans and sticking to them like a good girl and a couple of ideas I had worked really well. So that means I have 2 recipes to share today.

Firstly - this is one that I've been thinking of for a while. I was in the supermarket a while back on the lookout for some falafel and I saw carrot falafels! Of course they were not vegan, so I thought screw you Waitrose - screw you in the ear! I shall make my own. And I did. And they were rad. I was planning to serve them on pittas with yoghurt sauce, but the supermarket ran out of pittas - seriously, how do you run out of pittas??? So I went with a salad instead which would normally mean I'd be hungry again within an hour, but I wasn't.

Carrot Falafel with Yoghurt & Tahini sauce

Stage 1
1.5 cups / 250g cooked chickpeas
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ cup / 4 tbsp chickpea cooking liquid or water
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Stage 2
½ tsp baking powder
1 medium carrot, grated (generous ½ cup)
¼ cup / 4 tbsp yellow cornmeal

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F and spray a baking sheet with a little oil.

Put the first stage ingredients into the food processor and blend until pretty much smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the other ingredients, mixing well to combine. It should be a pretty soft dough.

Take a rounded tbsp or so of the mixture at a time, roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Then place on the baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Flip, then cook another 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Go careful, they are very soft – not dry like some store bought falafel can be.

Serve in pitas with salad and yoghurt tahini sauce or with whatever ya like. This made about 10 falafel.

Suck it Waitrose!

Yoghurt Tahini Sauce
¼ cup / 4 tbsps soy yoghurt
1 tbsp tahini
Pinch cumin
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
A couple of dashes of hot sauce (I used Franks), optional
3 tbsp of water (I used chickpea cooking liquid
Tbsp of finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) – use flat parsley if you don’t like coriander. I think some mint and some dill would also be great in this.

Method: Just whisk everything together, it’s that simple.

Secondly, I've been planning to revisit my savoury muffins for ages and change 'em up a bit. I decide to axe the sheese and add some veggies. So I added some sweetcorn and shredded courgette with a bit of jalapeno for a nice kick. They are YUM, perfect for a savoury treat when the need arises!

Spicy Courgette Corn Muffins
I know it sounds like a long ingredients list, but most of the items are store-cupboard stuff! This makes 6 muffins, double it for 12.

Dry Ingredients:
¾ cup / 125g medium yellow cornmeal
¼ cup / 40g wholemeal flour
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried sage
Pinch garlic powder
½ cup grated courgette/zucchini (about ½ a medium courgette)
½ cup / 40g sweetcorn (half a small tin)
2 rings of jarred nacho jalapeno chilli (optional for a bit of a kick)
Wet Ingredients
¾ cup / 185ml unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used light soya)
½ tsp white wine or cider vinegar
2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
1 tsp tahini
½ tsp miso (optional)


Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and spray a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin with a little oil.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. I put the veggies in with the dry and get them all nice and coated to stop them sinking to the bottom - although I don’t think that would happen anyway in this mixture – it’s pretty thick!

Whisk together the wet ingredients and pour them into the dry. Mix until just combined. Spoon into the muffin tins and press down. These don’t rise much, if at all, so you need to fill them to the top.

Bake for around 25 minutes, until just lightly browned and a knife or skewer comes out clean. Leave them to cool for a good 15 minutes and carefully remove to a wire rack. They’re pretty crumbly – but not dry at all. They are yum.

Cooking to: Eagles of Death Metal - Heart On (I got tickets to see them in June - SQUEEEEE!!)

And a bonus pic of dinner the other day. VCON Chickpea cutlets, couscous with pinenuts and veggies and tahini sauce with lots of paprika in.

Happy Easter to anyone that celebrates it! I don't really but I am a HUGE fan of the 4 day weekend - sandwiched between two 4 day work-weeks! Have a great long weekend off everyone!!

Monday 6 April 2009

Well hellooooo

It's been a while but I am now all moved in, settled and almost completely unpacked!! I just have a few more bits (and a craptonne of bill-shredding) to do! The flat is looking gorgeous and I'm so happy with it! I haven't taken photos yet as it's not all ready but hopefully by next time I'll have some to share.

Also, I had my shoddy tattoo fixed on Friday and it now looks lovely, so once that heals I'll post a pic of that too - YAY!

It's great to have my own kitchen again and I've been really enjoying myself, thinking up menus and cooking. On my second day in the flat, I felt the need to make bread. I had some soup in the fridge and wanted some lovely rolls to go with, so I made some.

They were lovely and crusty but once cold, they were a little too dense so next time, I'll make 8 out of the dough instead of six. I sprayed them with a teeny bit of light olive oil and sprinkled some sesame seeds on them before I baked them.

Last monday, I made Jessy's butterbean burgers, I used yellow pepper and added in some fresh parsley because I had some in the fridge. These are soooo freakin good!

For lunch the next day, I had another patty of the beanburgers left and to make it a bit lighter for lunch, I didn't bother to cook it up, I just mashed half of it with some soya yoghurt to make a sandwich spread. YUM!!!!!! Seriously yum. I did the same with the other half the next day.

I had this big old bag of basil in the fridge becuase it was on special so I bought it and only used a little bit in the soup I made, more on that in a minute. So I thought I'd make some pesto and I had it mixed with some soya yoghurt and some fresh, shelled edamame that I bought in watroise, served over wholewheat rotilli. Nice but the beans were a bit, erm crunchy, despite following the cooking instructions like a good girl!!!

Speaking of soup, this is it. I really struggled to get a good picture of it, as you can see! I roasted up some plum tomatoes and garlic cloves, then added them to my new blender with veggie stock, salt & pepper and a handful of cashews. It was good but my blender really couldn't cope with blending the cashews properly - my trusty old stick blender may have done a better job. It tasted rad though.

I made some VCON chickpea cutlets in the week too. I didn't have any breadcrumbs so I subbed in medium cornmeal. I had to double the water but I really like the flavour of this. It gave them a lovely crunchy edge as well. I always bake my cutlets, as I prefer them this way and I also halved the oil called for in the recipe.
The stir-fry was so good though, that it didn't even really need the cutlet. It was loads of veggies, cooked spelt wheat and some teriyaki sauce. MMM.

This is the spelt wheat - I saw it in Waitrose and had to give it a try - good stuff!!

And this was another Jessy recipe!! Jalapeno polenta with spicy black beans. I added some mushrooms into the black beans and also some fresh parsley as I still had some kicking around. This was gorgeous. I had the polenta cold for lunch the next day and it was just as rad. And the black beans were delicious - definitely a winner!

And shocker - no baked goods (aside from the bread)! I've been really trying to be good, as we have now picked our bridesmaids dresses for October and so I only have 6 months to drop some poundage!! I wonder how long that'll last!!