My Top Picks of Festive & Winter Vegan Dinner Centrepieces

For the past six years or so, my family has eaten our Cranberry Glazed Nut Loaf as the centrepiece to our Christmas dinner. It’s our favourite nut loaf and I only make it once or twice a year to keep it special. I originally posted the recipe on the blog in 2013 and it fast became a reader favourite. If you have the Bit of the Good Stuff cookbook, you’ll also find the recipe on p141 along with my favourite easy vegan Red Onion Miso Gravy.

The loaf stores really well (in fact I think it tastes even better a day or two after its made) so I’m planning on making it today (Christmas Eve). Then, tomorrow, all we need to do is cut some slices and heat them up either in the oven or in my mum’s microwave. Easy peasy and minimal time spent in the kitchen, which means more time for fun, games, films and forest walks. That’s how I like to spend my Christmas day!

While I have our main Christmas meal sorted for this year, I am really looking forward to trying out some new recipes during our week off. There are a handful in particular that have caught my eye and I thought I’d share them in today’s post in case you’re looking for some recipe inspiration too.

It wasn’t intentional, but all the recipes I’ve picked happen to be pastry-based. I do love a tasty pie or tart this time of year!

Let’s kick off with a couple of puff pastry pies that would make fantastic centrepieces for festive or winter dinners. Continue reading “My Top Picks of Festive & Winter Vegan Dinner Centrepieces”

Top Picks of Vegan Christmas Chocolates 2016

In today’s post, I’m sharing some of my top picks of chocolates for the upcoming festive season. So if you’re looking to buy chocolates for a vegan loved one… or are vegan yourself and looking to buy a gift for family and friends, I’ve got you covered!

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Vegan Town is a great place to head if you’re looking for something special and a bit different. It’s my ‘go to’ shop for vegan chocolates and here are a few reasons why… Continue reading “Top Picks of Vegan Christmas Chocolates 2016”

MattressOnline Monster Drawing Competition

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Lil’ L was recently invited to take part in the MattressOnline Monster Drawing Competition.  The challenge was to design a monster, name it, and explain what it is and what it does. The monsters will be judged on their originality, and the three winners will be able to select their own monster-related prizes. Lil’ L has already got his eye on some awesome Monster Lego sets, if he’s lucky enough to be selected 😉

He’s worked really hard on his monster this past week and is finally ready to reveal him. I’ll hand you over to Lil’ L so he can introduce him to you.

Hello! I’m Lil’ L and today I’m taking over my mom’s blog to tell you about my monster. His name is Curio and he is a problem- solving monster. He helps with all sorts of problems. For example, he can clean up spillages, tidy your room, find something you’ve lost or help with homework. He’s also really friendly and likes to play games and when it’s dark he glows like a little night light.

As you can see in my picture, he has lots of features which make him really useful. He has a body that glows at night, eyes that see in the dark, large ears that can hear everything, a big nose for smelling stuff and a big pocket in his tummy for storing pens, pencils other useful stuff. He even has sponges on his feet for mopping up spills!

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What a helpful little monster eh? I definitely wouldn’t mind having him around the house, keeping everything neat and tidy!

I’d like to wish all the children taking part in this competition the best of luck

The competition closes at midnight tomorrow (Tuesday 16th September). A selection of the entries submitted so far can be viewed in the Monster Gallery. I would also like to express my thanks to MattressOnline for hosting this fab competition! x

Amy’s Kitchen Hamper UK Giveaway (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan!)

Amy’s Kitchen is a family business, founded 25 years ago by Rachel and Andy Berliner following the birth of their daughter, Amy. All Amy’s Kitchen products are vegetarian, and many are also suitable for vegans and those on gluten-free and dairy-free diets. Committed to using only the finest natural ingredients, all products undergo a thorough taste test from the family to ensure each one has a true home-cooked taste.

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Amy’s Kitchen offers an extensive range of quality, frozen vegetarian dishes and canned soups, which are perfect for those days when you don’t have time to prepare meals from scratch. In the UK, they’re available to purchase in major supermarkets and independent health food stores nationwide. You can use this store locator to find your nearest stockist. (Please note that the UK supermarkets seem to only stock the vegetarian frozen meals rather than the vegan ones at the moment, so do make sure you check the labels).

Today I have one amazing giveaway lined up for you! Amy’s Kitchen is kindly offering my readers the chance to win a hamper filled with seven of their tasty meals. Taking into account the dietary requirements of my readers, we’ve made sure that all the products in this hamper are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan 🙂

Here’s the lowdown on what’s included:

Rice Mac & Cheeze
After years of recipe testing, Amy’s Kitchen discovered delicious dairy-free Daiya Cheeze to go with their tender organic rice pasta. This dish is so tasty that people will no longer have to miss out on their favourite ‘mac and cheese!’

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Vegetable Lasagne
The chefs at Amy’s Kitchen have created a Vegetable Lasagne suitable for their gluten intolerant and vegan customers made with spinach, courgettes, carrots and tofu mixed with luscious Daiya non-dairy mozzarella-style cheese, Amy’s own authentic Italian-style sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes, all layered between sheets of light tender rice pasta.

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Thai Red Curry
This curry is Amy’s Dad’s favourite dish! It has finely cut vegetables including sautéed onions, broccoli, carrots and butternut squash, slowly cooked in authentic spices and coconut milk, topped off with tofu and served with fragrant Jasmine rice.

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Manhattan Veggie Burger
Firm and hearty, this Veggie burger is inspired by the best of American burgers and is the perfect all-round burger for any occasion. Made with vegetables, walnuts and quinoa, this burger is free from dairy, gluten and soy, but full of flavour.

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Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
Amy’s original lentil soup is so popular that the family went on to create another delicious lentil soup! This one is full of vegetables including green beans, tomatoes and spinach in a hearty, flavourful lentil-based soup.

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Organic Hearty Spanish Rice & Red Bean Soup
This fresh-tasting soup combines brown rice with red beans, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, sweetcorn and green chillies. It’s just right for a light lunch or with a salad for dinner.

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Organic Split Pea Soup
This traditional favourite is made with organic green split peas, onions, celery, carrots and garlic has a surprisingly light, delicate flavour.

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To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous hamper, simply leave me a comment answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so! There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.

This giveaway is UK only and open to residents aged 18 and over. The closing date is Friday 23rd May 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter and notified by email. The winner will have 7 days to respond. If they fail to do so, another winner will be selected at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
New to Rafflecopter? It’s pretty easy! Simply click on ‘Use Your Email’ and enter a name and your email address (rest assured it won’t be published anywhere). You can also log in using your Facebook account, if you wish. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed here.

* If you experience any technical problems when trying to enter the Rafflecopter, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll submit your entry for you *

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Good luck everyone! xx

Summer Break ‘Unplugged’

Hi everyone!

I’m just stopping by to let you know that I’m taking a 2-3 week break from blogging. I’m going to totally ‘unplug’ (no FB, Twitter, email, internet) so that I can devote my attention to my lovely boys and my Buddhist practice.

I can’t believe we’re already coming to the end of Week 3 of the school holidays. It has flown by! I’ve spent the majority of my time these past weeks working on the book, refining recipes, making food and photographing it. Lil’ L has been a huge help to me. I really appreciate his direct, very honest opinions! He’s also been far quicker than I have on making decisions about which photos should go in the book. I was shocked to discover today that, in the past 2 years, I’ve taken 7,642 photographs of food! You’ll be relieved to know that only 80-100 will make their way into the book 😉

For the final three weeks of the school hols, I want to make the most of the time I have with Lil’ L before he’s back at school. I’m sure you understand!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pics he designed. This one he drew in my Wednesday Workshop…

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… and this one he created on his return from the Children’s Dharma Festival at the Tara Centre in Derbyshire. He told me that he filled the bird with words he remembers hearing at the festival. It’s amazing how much kids take in!

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Enjoy the rest of August everyone.  I look forward to catching up with you all on my return

p.s. I’ve already got some great giveaways lined up for you 😉

Vegan Cornbread – Great Accompaniment to Mexican Chillis & Soups (Dairy free / Egg free)

What glorious weather we’ve had this week in the UK!  The blue sky and sunshine has been very welcome indeed.  I doubt that it will last but I’m determined to make the most of it while it’s here 🙂

Since it’s been so warm, we’ve had some lighter dinners this week.  On Tuesday, we had one of my all-time favourite soups – Mexican Black Bean Soup – which we served with some toasted tortilla segments and a side dish of cornbread.

Mexican Black Bean Soup

I’ve tried many cornbread recipes over the years, but they’ve never suited my family’s tastes.  The American recipes tend to be too sweet, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe (which only uses cornmeal rather than a mix with wheat flour) was too overpowering for us.  It was also really dry (or maybe that was down to me).  M didn’t even think the ducks would like it, so we ended up throwing it in the compost!

Anyway, I’m relieved to say that my third attempt of the week turned out really well.  I revisited my old cornbread recipe and tweaked it slightly, adding more liquid and some apple cider vinegar so that it was lighter and less dry.  I really liked the texture of this latest batch – it had a lightly crisped exterior and fluffy, moist interior.  It was perfect for dipping into the soup and didn’t need any margarine or oil on it.  The quantities made 9 large slices, so I’ve frozen the remaining slices for future Mexican dishes.

Vegan Cornbread

This cornbread recipe may not be authentic, but it’s got great texture and flavour (plus it’s 100% plant-powered!)  It’s very simple to make, requires little hands-on time and will be ready in 30 minutes.  Prepare the bread first and it can be baking while you cook your Mexican dish.

Here’s the recipe:

 

Have a great weekend everyone! xx

Have you tried corn bread before?  If so, do you prefer it sweet or savoury?

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