Double Chocolate and Peanut Butter Birthday Cake [VEGAN]

31768739_1511799018947090_2612715514820034560_n

I love birthdays, especially other people’s! And what better excuse for a good wodge of dark, rich chocolate cake with decadent frosting? I never calorie count as it is, but I think we can all agree that a slice of birthday cake ought to be exempt.

My mum always baked when I was growing up and I’ve since made a fair few celebration cakes over the years. Carrot, vanilla, cookies and cream, a six-layer rainbow cake for our little one’s fourth birthday (never again!) and a chocolate and vanilla checked cake which I really ought to find an excuse to recreate.

This is the latest, for my father-in-law’s recent birthday. Chocolate sponge with peanut butter icing and a thick, dark chocolate ganache dribbled over – topped off with a pile of peanuts, chocolate chips and sweet/savoury popcorn.

Continue reading →

Redemptive Root Vegetable & Red Lentil Soup [VEGAN]

31729390_1511799202280405_2385034101548646400_n

It’s a good while since I’ve updated. Between home renovations (hello, working bathroom!), work and family commitments, I’ve struggled to find time to blog – even when I’ve really missed it.

Recently though, I’ve been unwell for a couple of months and I feel very fortunate to be starting to recover now. Blogging has been a really positive experience so I’m determined to pick this site up again and run with it.

While not feeling so great, I’ve had next to no appetite and very little mental or physical energy for cooking. So this soup has been an absolute necessity around once a week. I’ve found the peeling and chopping quite a cathartic and relaxing task – but frozen or pre-prepared veg would work just as well.

Continue reading →

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE)

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]

The other half is admirably continuing to eschew processed sugar in the run-up to Easter. I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, trying to come up with something he can take into work to stave off temptation when his colleagues raid the biscuit box. The current favourite is this carrot and apple muffin recipe. After eyeing them with the mother of all dubious expressions, my previously sugar-besotted partner finally tried one and decided “they’re not very sweet, but I actually really like them.”

Will he continue to avoid sugar after Lent, I wonder? Possibly not, though I’ll continue experimenting if he does. But these little fruit and veg-filled powerhouses will still work well for breakfasts on-the-go or a mid-morning snack with a brew, any time of the year.

Continue reading →

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]

I love my slow cooker.

It’s the one kitchen gadget I truly wouldn’t be without – and that’s coming from a family who chose not to replace their expired microwave when it gave up the ghost! It’s pretty well-loved these days, especially since it was second-hand when we were given it – but it’s been a reliable bastion of easy dinners when long work days, a newborn baby and a whole host of other hurdles to healthy eating have reared their heads.

It’s such a relief some days to be able to prepare food quickly in the morning while everyone’s eating breakfast and then come back later to a magically-ready, steaming bowl of soup, bolognaise or stew. And no, sadly I am not one of the dedicated cooks who saute their veg before adding to the slow-cooker.  Yes, it may add to the flavour, which is all to the good. But if I have to faff around frying off an onion, I might as well carry on with the rest of the meal. The idea here is simplicity. Chop it up, chuck it in, get on with the day, dollop on a plate.

Continue reading →

Three-Ingredient Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse [VEGAN]

Aquafaba Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse

Aquafaba Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse

Impossibly light and airy, this is not the mousse to which I’ve become accustomed as a vegan. Wonderful as the heavy chocolate desserts based on coconut cream or avocado can be, it’s such a novelty to have a mousse that resembles those made with egg-whites. Not to mention it uses only three ingredients, one of which you were probably going to pour down the drain anyway.

The secret: aquafaba. It sounds so much more palatable than ‘bean water’, right? A little application of Latin always makes things better!

Continue reading →

Raspberry and Coconut Sponge Cake [VEGAN]

Raspberry and Coconut Sponge Cake [VEGAN]

Raspberry and Coconut Sponge Cake [VEGAN]

There’s something deeply comforting about a good wodge of sponge cake. And they’re so satisfying to make as well.

Whipped up in a flash, this raspberry and coconut sponge is an easy “bung it in a bowl and mix with whatever implement comes to hand” option for lazy weekends when you don’t want to spend forever baking but just fancy a slice of something with your afternoon cup of tea.

The basic sponge mix is a fairly flexible “Victoria Sponge” alternative based on one from Ms Cupcake’s fantastic cookbook The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town (buy it – you won’t regret it) with the oil and vanilla slightly reduced and the addition of tart frozen raspberries and dessicated coconut to flavour.

Vegetable oil and soya milk replace the dairy and eggs without leaving the final cake dense, dry or stodgy as vegan cakes can often be – the crumb is light and fluffy enough to pass for a standard sponge and easily passed the ‘omnivore test’ when we shared with friends.

Continue reading →

Chocolate and Beetroot Tart [VEGAN]

Chocolate and Beetroot Tart

Chocolate and Beetroot Tart

I’ve always adored beetroot. Whether pickled in vinegar and added to salads or roasted with herbs and carrots – it has a beautiful, wholesome flavour and packs a punch with its vivid purple hue. Recently however, I’ve had a hankering to add it to a dessert (my favourite cakes often feature a hidden vegetable, usually carrot, pumpkin or parsnip, so beetroot was only a matter of time).

So with the in-laws due for dinner it seemed like the perfect opportunity for this beetroot and chocolate tart. Sadly, we’ve now all come down with lurgy and dinner has had to be cancelled… the only upshot being that I have been forced to self-medicate with a plate of dense, chocolate-laden pie. Come to think of it, I still feel quite unwell. Perhaps another slice is in order?

Continue reading →

FREE Cookery Conversion Printables

Free Cookery Conversion Printables

Let me say it straight: I love maths. I have great respect for number-wranglers.

Maths, however, does not love me. Despite my best efforts, something about the subject eludes my grasp and I’m probably better leaving well alone.

And what exactly does that have to do with cookery? Well, if you’re baking meringues there’s a big difference between a gentle drying out at 220 degrees Fahrenheit and a terrifying incineration if you opt for Celcius instead. All too often I have to pause, mid recipe, to parse out the correct temperature or swap from pounds into grams.

Continue reading →

Homemade Play Dough (with beetroot and turmeric!)

Homemade Play Dough with Beetroot and Turmeric Colouring

Homemade Play Dough with Beetroot and Turmeric Colouring

It’s been bitterly cold today, so the littlest chickpea and I abandoned our original plans and looked indoors for activities. Mounds of laundry folded later – not to mention the construction of an epically complex train track – and he was bored.

Cartoons wouldn’t cut it and he didn’t fancy baking, so we went to the cupboard for our trusty Play Doh. The little one loves to make a mess with the dough – squashing it, stamping it, cutting it out with cookie-cutters. It’s creative play and I’m more than happy for him to get his hands dirty. Unfortunately, the creative aspect of melding the different colours together (while clearly fun and educational) leads to a less than perfect result when it comes to clean-up. Somewhat predictably, the blues, reds and greens had merged into an unhealthy-looking conglomeration which Mr 3-year-old declared unsatisfactory and refused to play with.

Continue reading →

Spinach Pesto Cubes [VEGAN]

Spinach Pesto Cubes

Spinach Pesto Cubes

Despite careful menu planning, we always seem to have something lurking in the back of the fridge which is just about at the end of its life. On this occasion, half a bag of spinach was watching me woefully from behind the tomatoes every time I went to make a cup of tea. A little wilted but still edible, it had no place in the rest of our meals for the week – but I couldn’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good greens.

Continue reading →