Friday, 27 November 2015

Carrot and cinnamon Christmas tree cookies: dairy free, egg free, soya free, sugar free weaning recipe

This recipe is based heavily on my Sweet potato biscuit stars, but carrot based and with slightly different spicing.

Since making the Sweet potato biscuit stars I've repeated the bake a couple of times with a savoury twist - carrot and ground coriander, and parsnip and garam masala were both huge hits. However a few things happened today - I had the last of our veg patch carrots to use up, Harry had a friend to play this afternoon and I'm all about Christmas as there's only a month to go. So even my husband can't be Scroogey about me mentioning it ;-) I decided to use the same spicing as I've used in the Christmas cake which is in the oven as I type.

Part of me wanted to make something Christmassy as lots of our baby groups are gearing up for the festivities and I'd like to make sure that I have an easy, allergy friendly something I can make of a morning and bring with us so that there's something safe for Harry to eat with his friends.

Harry and his friend helped to knead the dough, and they made round biscuits whilst I managed the Christmas tree shapes as the cutters are quite sharp. As this dough is just flour, dairy free spread, carrots and spices I wasn't at all worried at the toddler take on kneading which heavily involves the mouth.

 Carrot and cinnamon Christmas tree cookies
Dairy free, egg free, soya free, sugar free
Weaning recipe

200g carrots, peeled and cooked until soft
360g plain flour
60g Dairy free spread (Pure or Vitalite tend to be the ones we use)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C
Line a cookie sheet with greaseproof paper

Food processor method: In the bowl of your food processor blitz the carrots, flour, dairy free spread and spices until the ingredients come together in a smooth ball of dough that leaves the bowl clean(ish)
Or by hand: Mash the carrots and mix together with the flour, dairy free spread and spices until you get a smooth ball of dough.
Roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick and cut out the Christmas tree shapes
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so.

I haven't yet tried these with cornflour to make them gluten free, but as I'm anticipating this batch will disappear fairly promptly, I'll have another go next week.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Afternoon - just a little note here, pre meal plan to apologise for the radio silence. Life has been as busy as ever; Harry's had a horrible chesty cough and is teething so no one is sleeping much, and in order to get some rest I've been heading off to bed by 8pm at the latest. Which cuts down my window for blogging a fair old amount. Add that to the fact that I'm trying to clear the freezer so that I can defrost it before Christmas means we're on freezer surprise a fair old amount. As well as trying to do a pre Christmas spring clean. Ideally this week. All help gratefully accepted.

So, yes... busy, busy, busy. Unfortunately on top of this a recent migraine seems to have affected my peripheral vision and I'm now a glasses wearer which has taken some getting used to.

That said, it's not all doom, gloom and sleeplessness in the Pantry - I've got an exciting project coming up in partnership with Ikea in the New Year, so watch this space if you're interested in sustainable living.

So meal planning ahoy...

Breakfasts are porridge pretty much all the time now. I make porridge much like I cook rice, by warming the almond milk up to almost boiling, adding the oats and a grated apple before putting the lid on the pan and turning the hob off. 5 minutes later, perfect porridge.

Lunches are soup, soup soup... This week it'll be carrot and lentil I think. Owing to the fact that I have lots of both in the house.


Monday - Beef & Guinness casserole with dumplings. I first made this last year in the oven, but have made it this time in our new slow cooker. We'll be having it with kale and carrots from the garden.

Tuesday - Leftover casserole with mashed/ baked potatoes, green beans (that we froze when we picked them earlier this year) and broccoli

Wednesday - Bacon, mushroom and tomato pasta

Thursday - Leftover pasta

Friday - Schnitzel and homemade chips

Saturday - Slow roast pork (remind me to get it out of the freezer on Friday)

Sunday - we've got a family do to go to, but if we're hungry when we get home we can have leftover pork.

Hopefully that'll make this week's shop a smallish one as all the meat is in the fridge or freezer already.

I'm linking up with Mrs M, and I'm an organising Junkie as always so be sure to pop on over to both of their Linkies and see what the other planners are up to.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Spiced plum and apple crumble: dairy free, vegan

Dairy free spiced plum and apple crumble

I love crumble, it's one of my favourite puddings - up there with my 10 minute syrup sponge pud. This recipe is gently spiced with the Pumpkin pie spice mix from  I made last week - partly as I wanted another excuse to use it.

Dairy free vegan spiced plum and apple crumble

This is a dairy free, vegan recipe - replacing the butter with a dairy free spread, and my usual honey with a date syrup. I discovered date syrup courtesy of another blogger and really, really love the depth of flavour and natural sweetness it gives dishes. I found mine in our local health food shop, but I'm sure you could find it in a bigger supermarket.

Dairy free spiced plum and apple crumble

As we don't have puddings often, I wouldn't mind Harry having a little of this. I know there's sugar in it, but a little is fine and he doesn't really have anything else with sugar in it. I tend to work on the basis that if they're not having sugar all the time, once in a while won't hurt.

Historically I've used the Nigella recipe for crumble, but today I mixed it up a bit. This would be lovely served with some Birds custard made up with almond milk. Did you know that Birds custard was invented because the inventor Alfred Bird's wife had an egg allergy so it's perfect for my CMPA bubba with an egg allergy.

Spiced plum and apple crumble
Dairy free, vegan

One punnet of ripen at home plums - about 7, quartered
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice - this could be replaced by 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon date syrup, mixed up with 2 tablespoons of water
80g plain flour
20g porridge oats
1 tablespoon demerera sugar
70g dairy free spread - I used Pure but Vitalite or an own brand would work too

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C
Quarter the plums and put into the dish you're going to bake the crumble in - you want everything to fit quite closely
Peel the apples, cut into eighths and nestle them amongst the plums
Sprinkle over the spice
Mix the water and date syrup together and pour over the fruit
Mix everything up well and make sure the plums are skin side down
Pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye, you want everything soft, not caramelised.
While the fruit is baking, make your crumble
Mix the oats, flour and sugar together in a bowl
Rub in the dairy free spread until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Top the baked fruit with the crumble and pop back in the oven for 20 minutes

Enjoy with that custard. Because there's nothing better.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Spiced pumpkin cake: dairy free, egg free, vegan

This cake is deceptively normal - I don't feel like I need to preface it as dairy free, egg free and vegan, with the semi-apologetic caveat of 'that's why it's a bit dense'. You just can't tell - well M certainly couldn't. It's beautifully spiced with wonderful autumn flavours, in the shape of a homemade Pumpkin pie spice blend, courtesy of Happiness is homemade. I used sweet mixed spice instead of allspice as I didn't have any, and it's absolutely lovely. Of course you don't have to make your own spice and I've given an alternative in the recipe below.

Similarly I made my own pumpkin puree - what can I say, the pumpkins were being sold off a lot cheaper than a tin of puree and Harry had a good nap. It was deceptively simple, I just stabbed the pumpkin with a knife, 5 or 6 times so that any steam could escape. Then roasted it in the oven (whole) for about an hour at 160 degrees C. After that I let it cool, cut it in half, disposed of the seeds and scooped out the flesh which I pureed with a stick blender. Voila. But equally, you can buy a tin.

Spiced pumpkin cake
Dairy free, egg free, vegan
Serves 12

250ml pumpkin puree
125ml apple puree/ or 2 small ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g soft brown sugar
250g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp Pumpkin spice, bought or homemade - or use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and a good grating of nutmeg

Grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8inch loose bottomed cake tin
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C
Beat the pumpkin puree, apple puree/ mashed bananas, vegetable oil, vanilla and sugar together until well combined
Fold in the flour, bicarb, baking powder and spices until just combined
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for an hour (keep an eye on it though)
Allow to cool in the tin

Serve with a cup of rooibos tea and your feet up - ideally under a crochet blanket as you work the borders. Just me then?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Chicken and butternut squash stew: a dairy free recipe

Dairy free chicken and butternut squash stew

This stew is such a lovely autumnal dish, full of warming flavours, sweet root veggies, and enough chicken that you know it's there - but that doesn't cost a fortune. In fact, it's only got chicken in it because I defrosted some to make a casserole on Sunday, and then dropped the pot of cumin onto the slow cooker and smashed it. Go me! Or something. I wanted something that was suitable for us all, and a replacement for the casserole I had in mind.

This was inspired by a Squash, chicken and couscous recipe at BBC Good Food - but, then heavily adapted as I could see that the squash was never going to cook, and I wanted to use some different ingredients as that was what we had. 

M said that he'd like this with pasta - so that's how he's having it tonight, I preferred it over a portion of curly kale. There's something about the pairing of a rich tomato based sauce with the iron-yness (it's a word) of dark green veggies. 

Dairy free chicken and butternut squash stew

Chicken and butternut squash stew
Dairy free
Serves 5

Fry light spray (you could use olive oil - about a tablespoon)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red chilli (or appropriate amount of lazy chills)
2 red onions, peeled and diced
2 tbsp harrisa paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
2 chicken breasts, diced
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 butternut squash, roasted in advance
140g of quinoa, washed in advance
1 punnet (or thereabouts) of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 litre passata
Fresh coriander to serve (lots if you're me, none if you're M)
Salt and pepper 

Spray a large pan with the Fry light, and add the garlic, and chilli, gently frying until you can smell them
Add the onions and spices and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes - you want the onions completely soft, but not caramelised
Add the chicken and brown off - about 8 minutes
Add the veggies, soaked quinoa, cherry tomatoes and passata
Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the veggies are soft, and the quinoa cooked through. It took about half an hour
Serve as you like - either as it is, or with green veggies, or pasta and a liberal sprinkling of that coriander. 

This is today's Blog Every Day November post - on the prompt Food Glorious Food. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Meal Planning Monday

It feels a bit like Autumn sidled out the door last night - we woke up to a second morning of fog and a distinct snap in the air. Not impressed as it means no more drying washing outside this week. Mind you I don't know where I think I'd get the time as I'm going to catch myself on the way back this week.

Breakfasts - Everyone got back on the porridge wagon yesterday. So that's it now until March pretty much! I'm still grating apple into mine and Harry has sultanas in his.

Lunches - we've got enough of this soup left for today - then I've got some Pumpkin leftover from the weekend. I think I'll mix up some more parsnips, carrots, onion and sweet potato and add the leftover Pumpkin to vary what we had last week. I'll keep the spicing the same though.


Monday: I've got some chicken defrosted that needs using up so this I'm going to make a variation on this Squash and chicken one pot recipe from from BBC using quinoa (as that's what I've got in) and some extra veggies.

Tuesday: I'm going to make us all a dairy free Pasta genovese, using this recipe as a guideline. I've got some broccoli to use up and will make up the rest of the veggies with anything green that's sat still in the kitchen *makes mental note to move scourers* ;-)

Wednesday: Sadly I've run out of Heck sausages and they're not stocked anywhere near us, so it's back to Pork and Apple done as a tray roast with butternut squash, sweet potatoes and some kale.

Thursday: Gammon steaks, homemade chips and veggies

Friday: I think a casserole of some sort - a variation on my Beef and Guinness stew as that does lovely leftovers

Saturday: Leftover casserole

Sunday: Roast chicken with all the dairy free trimmings.

For some reason I'm craving a crumble, so as Aldi have plums on their Super 6, I think I'll do a plum and apple crumble this week. We've got Parkin made up, ahead of next weekend (not that we'll be at any bonfire parties, but I like to get in the cake focussed spirit), and a vegan pumpkin cake which is refusing to photograph nicely and so as yet hasn't been blogged.

What are you up to this week meal planning wise? Be sure to pop on over to At Home with Mrs M, or I'm an Organising Junkie to see what everyone else is

Blog Every Day November #BEDN Day two: Love Mondays

Blog Every Day November. #BEDN Does what it says on the tin. I'm going to be using it in a bid to focus on my writing and photography a bit more. I signed up as a bit of a whim, yesterday - hence there's no post for Day 1. And so, today finds me full of cold, snuggled under my crochet blanket, catching up on Saturday's Strictly whilst the bubba naps. I'm not sure yet where #BEDN will take me, but I'll be posting in the evenings with normal posts going up at 7am as always. 

Today's prompt is Love Mondays - Do I? Do you? Does anyone? Mondays for me are a busy day. Harry has Groovers and Shakers in the morning. It's a baby music class run by our local Children's Centre. The babies have shakers, castanets, bells, drums and even ukuleles once! We sing, play our instruments and the little ones generally go a little bit wild for 45 minutes. It's a really lovely, friendly group and is close enough to home that it still fits with Harry's morning nap - albeit by the skin of our teeth most weeks.

Then we go to Slimming World - I'm slowly losing weight again after coming to a complete standstill over the summer, but I do feel like I need a real boost. I'd like to be at target by Christmas, but it looks like it'll be a bit longer - but I do need to stay focussed. 

The rest of the day tends to be quieter, involving a food shop, afternoon nap and catching up on any work that needs doing be it in the house, or to do with the blog. 

But do I love my Mondays? Well, yes I think I do - I certainly don't have that Sunday night-itis I used to have when I worked. That feeling of dread that would come on during the 'long dark tea-time of the soul' is no more and I know that even on the most difficult days I'm spending my time with someone I wholeheartedly adore. The work is far harder than even the most tricky report for CQC and yet I have a smile on my face. The pay is lower than even my first Saturday job at Mark one and despite the leaky shoes I'm richer in so many ways. 

So that's my first post for #BEDN - Love Mondays? Why yes, I do 


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